Is Apple About to Copy Samsung for a Change?

Apple and Samsung couldn't be farther apart when it comes to product strategy. One embodies product depth while the other fully embraces product breadth. Combined with copying Apple, Samsung has quite successfully leveraged its diverse product portfolio to become the No. 1 smartphone vendor in the world.

But all that might be changing.

Broadening horizons
Investors are already expecting Apple to release affordable iPhone models this year, along with potentially a larger iPhone next year. Reuters is reporting some possible new details on those plans, saying that Apple is taking "a cue" from its South Korean rival.

One segment that Samsung has seen notable success in has been phablets, while Apple has opted to sit out on that growing niche thus far. Apple is now reportedly testing out larger iPhones with a range of possibilities, from 4.7-inch displays all the way up to 5.7-inch displays. The iPhone maker is known to change product specs "almost to the final moment," so nothing is set in stone.

Apple bucked the trend toward larger devices last year when it modestly increased the iPhone 5 display to 4 inches, positioning the device's one-handed use as a selling point. Still, in recent interviews Tim Cook has acknowledged that there is a growing segment of the market that prefers larger smartphones, hinting that Apple would one day address those users. Cook also wants to address various trade-offs in quality first.

The move down-market into the mid-range segment is expected this year. That model should also come in up to six different colors. The company is reportedly entertaining a $99 price point. While not specified in the report, that price would only be achievable if subsidized, since Apple can't profitably produce an iPhone that retails for $99. The unsubsidized price, which would apply in various emerging markets, would probably be closer to $350 to $400.

Samsung continues to dominate the important Chinese market, thanks to its wide range of price points. Strategy Analytics named Samsung as the top seller in China during the first quarter, moving 12.5 million units. Apple came in sixth place with 6.1 million iPhones sold, lagging local low-cost players like Huawei, ZTE, Coolpad, and Lenovo.

Apple is expected to ramp up mass production of both the flagship and affordable models in August ahead of a September launch. At this point, copying Samsung's broad product strategy wouldn't be such a bad thing.

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