On January 9, 2012, Samsung will announce their Apple Airplay competitor – the Samsung SwipeIt – at CES. SwipeIt works exactly like the Apple’s AirPlay. Watching a video on your smartphone and want to see it on the big screen? Just click a button and the video starts playing on your TV.
Samsung SwipeIt : Android :: Apple AirPlay : iOS
While SwipeIt works exactly like the Apple’s AirPlay, there are some significant differences:
- Apple’s AirPlay requires an iOS device, and the Apple TV device (plugged into your regular TV), bought separately, in order to work. Even if you already own an iPhone or an iPad, you’ll still need to buy an Apple TV to get started with Airplay.
- Samsung’s SwipeIt, on the other hand, works with any Android phone, and the Samsung Smart TV, which you presumably already own.
Indeed, in some respects, this is a more seamless experience, provided you happened to choose the right horses in the race.
Actively ignoring iOS, or staying clear of Apple?
If you have an iPhone and a Samsung TV (like I do), and you live in the US, you’re out of luck. The SwipeIt application is only available for the Android devices.
So, what’s going on? Why have they excluded us iPhone owners from enjoying SwipeIt? I thought of three possibilities.
First, perhaps Samsung doesn’t have enough development resources to build both an
Android and iOS version of SwipeIt. Bigger companies have used this excuse before. This would be a pretty suspect explanation, given Samsung already has a pretty sweet iOS app to control the Samsung Smart TV from the iPhone – so extending it to support SwipeIt couldn’t have been that hard.
Samsung might also be betting that if they were to build this application for iOS, they’d definitely be rejected from the App Store, on grounds that the application tries to replicate OS functionality (Apple has a pretty well-established policies about this). In addition, they might tip their hands early on SwipeIt vs Airplay, a legal battle that’s certain to ensue.
Or, could it be that Samsung is getting ready to battle Apple for the control of an end-to-end, vertically integrated media experience, with complete control of devices, operating system, experience and applications? Strategically, it makes sense for them to split the entire electronic ecosystem vertically – nudging consumers into buying all their devices exclusively from Samsung. Given how Motorola and HTC are hurting, Samsung just needs to nudge their customers towards Android, which will only strengthen its own strong hand.
It might just turn out that there’s a pretty banal explanation – that Apple just hasn’t approved the iOS app yet. This sounds thin, given the explicit absence of the Apple logo from the application pushed out to the TVs, not just a missing app in the App Store.
Samsung’s ecosystem – the first real competitor to the Apple ecosystem?
So, is Samsung building an end-to-end device ecosystem to rival, and to compete, with Apple? They are already well placed on the Smartphone and TV end, and are quickly building competency on the Tablet front.
Ironically, the one important hardware component that Apple has that Samsung doesn’t – the computer – is irrelevant in this new world of end-user centric devices. While Apple needs to support the Mac, and the Mac OS X – the primary platform for iOS development – Samsung, thanks to Android, can stay clear of the low-margin PC business.
Samsung is correctly getting a lot of flak for copying Apple’s UI to the T - but their recognition that an Apple-like simple user experience (even literally so) is key – is significant. If they also recognize (copy) Apple’s ecosystem strategy, they might make for a significant competitor!
Breaking in 2013: Apple acquires Samsung
I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple decides to acquire Samsung in, say, 2013. Like Apple, Samsung is vertically integrated, focussed on user experience (lawyers be damned), and running a good business. They even manufacture certain electronic components that Apple has to, grudgingly I’m sure, source. With Steve Jobs gone, I’m sure Tim Cook could make a pragmatic decision to make such a move, much to Google’s chagrin!
Competition makes companies stronger, and even as an Apple fanboy, I hope Samsung continues to push ahead!