The new Microsoft Surface tablet on display following a press conference at Pier 57 to officially launch Windows 8 and the tablet in New York on October 25, 2012. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)
“We are continuously faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems,” says Lee Iacocca, an auto-industry leader.
What a great way to see change. I was struck by Iacocca’s formulation when I was writing up a recent study of CIO and Chief Innovation Officer viewpoints. To understand how people who are responsible for enterprise innovation see their role and problems, I interviewed CIOs from enterprises like Dell, Chubb, AT&T, The Washington Post and Forbes‘ Lewis Dvorkin. Everyone of them felt he or she was facing once-in-a-life-time change… but that the changes would continue at pace.
That study is now published as The Fluid Core: How Technology Is Creating A New Hierarchy of Need and How Smart Companies Are Responding. The research was funded by Cognizant and I had a huge amount of help from Ben Pring and Paul Roehrig, co-directors of the Center for the Future of Work, in interpreting the results. I’d like to share a few of the insights here, particularly the six core ideas that came out of it.
First, an observation. A lot of the research work I’ve done over the past three years has focused on the long term transition of enterprises from product to product-and-service companies. That is, to be more like Apple, to integrate layers of service into a product’s design, delivery and ongoing life. That change has been underway for thirty years. You can see some of the research on HBR.org.
Mobile and Cloud enable companies to do seamless, friction free service development, so now is a good time to innovate and transform on this thirty year trajectory. However, just as service development got easier, hardware is making a comeback. For example Google and Microsoft, are now rapidly developing device strategies in pursuit of device-ware futures. But they are not alone. Even Disney has a device strategy! That means companies are headed into very complex product development, integrating hardware, software, services and communications.
But that’s a top-line observation. It will impact on how companies innovate, and as we have seen from Microsoft and the Surface tablet, getting it right is not easy.
In the report I talked about a new hierarchy of need – a kind of Maslowian pyramid for the enterprise and its people.
I have made a few adjustments since finishing the report and this is how I see it now – with the core ideas explained below.
The idea of the hierarchy is to show in a simple format where a company’s innovation priorities should lie. The emphasis is on simple!
The challenge, and opportunity, that faces most senior leaders is prepare for a new chapter of competition by infusing new skills, new tools, new management models, and new faces into the business.
But the constant refrain from the interviews was just how hard the burden had become – in the sense that change was an everyday occupation and that made it hard to take a more strategic view.
At the heart of all this is a struggle with the idea of core competency. Fast Company recently pronounced it dead. So what replaces it?
I got the feeling the CIOs were telling me the a fluid core is necessary – a fluid idea of what core competency should be, one that adapts with the times, and helps companies to see new roles for themselves in new markets. So, for example, Apple now has a core competency in retail – who would have thought it?
So here are the six ideas that seemed to matter, coming away from 30 interviews with transformational leaders.
The Fluid Core: In place of a rigid “core competency” smart companies now define a fluid core that allows them to adapt to new strategic priorities, primarily the need to seek out new markets and opportunities. That’s what Google is doing with Glass.
The new service infrastructure: (the base of the hierarchy, making all things possible). This is where cloud and mobile enable rapid new service development and new innovation paradigms. Cloud and mobile (and also peer-to-peer networks) enable us to do miraculous things like move massive amounts of data around at the press of a button, free – see BitTorrent’s new Sync App for iOS). They allow us to create and participate in new services, like car sharing, that promise to invert old industrial hierarchies. They allow us to do personal data monitoring and as we get better at printing sensor technology into thin film, they will revolutionize how we do personal medicine. Cloud, mobile and peer-to-peer are a new enabling infrastructure.
Radical adjacency: We call the pursuit of new products and new markets radical adjacency — the powerful strategies that adventurous companies develop to dominate or capture markets where they have little or no prior experience. Increasingly companies will find that they have to acquire skills across hardware, software, service and communications (and hence data) to innovate at industrial convergence points, like medical and mobile or display and advertising.
Personal innovation drivers: Sitting above the service infrastructure in the new hierarchy are human innovation drivers. We tend to leave them out when we think of what actually drives novelty. But today, human desire to do things differently makes an impact.
Looks at trends such as bring your own device (BYOD) that express personal empowerment through technology. They disrupt systems and organizational expectations. The consumerization of technology – it’s only just entered its first phase. What will phase 2 be? The maker revolution? Personal biology labs?
Taken together, the need for radical adjacency and the tendency of the labor force to become more empowered is making it increasingly difficult for management to make critical calls around brand and employee loyalty.
Externalization: Companies need to shift the burden of management and scale on to their ecosystems. Forbes has done it with its writers – the majority of whom are no longer members of the Fores staff. GigaOm has done it with its analyst network. Smart companies see the decline of employment as an asset – though they need to do more to make their ecosystems great places for the small player to do business. There’s a way to go with it. However, externalizing core processes is an essential element of scale.
In this new environment, companies go outside their walls for functions that are absolutely central to their identity and success.
Strategic options portfolios: This is one from the work Nick Vitalari and I did in The Elastic Enterprise. In fact Nick has done a lot of work, long term, on strategic options thinking. We mean by it that companies need to plan a wide range of innovations knowing that a chunk of them won’t be enacted. Having options also seems to be what the stock market now wants – witness Amazon and Google.
Those are the core ideas anyway – I would love some feedback because I want the next phase to be more oriented towards making the document of practical use to companies. If you have any thoughts then connect via the comments, or Twitter.
Follow me on Twitter @haydn1701 or join me on Facebook. I am here on Google
I’ve taught more than 300 professionals Social Business through hands-on workshops, and happy to announce new workshops from Altimeter Academy focused on Content Marketing and Social Business Analytics. Having been both a change agent in organizations and now an advisor for those facing change, I know how important skill development is to thrive in times [...]
A demonstrating group displays the Galaxy S4 on March 14, 2013 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)
Samsung Electronics‘ strong mobile phone profits for the quarter has put it ahead of Apple for the first time in mobile profitability. Apple‘s net profit declined by 22% year on year, in its fiscal Q3, compared with Samsung’s increase of 50%. It’s a strong story for Samsung but change is nevertheless evident.
Behind the profitability figures both Samsung and Apple lost market share. According to IDC Samsung was the leading smartphone maker in the second quarter of 2013 with shipments of 72.4 million units, but market share slipped from 32.2% a year earlier to 30.4% in Q2.
Apple meanwhile slipped from 16.6% to 13.1%.
In contrast shipments for LG doubled from June 2012 to June 2013. Market share was up to 5.1% from 3.7%.
Lenovo, the Chinese computer maker, also made a big push in the past 12 months. Market share was up to 5.1% from 3.7%.
As Tomi Ahonen said here on ReThinking Innovation a couple of months back, smartphones are a hits business. LG and Lenovo are climbing at quite a lick but need a breakout phone to get themselves ahead of the pack. LG looks the more likely to do this with its Q3 launch program. Much of Lenovo’s gains could be down to its game-centric strategy in China, which looks effective. However, it is a hard climb up the market share ladder without a standout phone.
But there are other dynamics at work. Perfecto Mobile, a cloud-based phone testing service for enterprises report increased queries from enterprises about Windows 8 phones, along higher levels of inquiry about alternatives to Android and iOS operating systems. Samsung relaunched it Windows line only a month ago, in London. Perfecto are predicting a breakout for Windows, based on the increased level of inquiries they are seeing, though that seems counter-intuitive right now.
Meanwhile services like Facebook Home have become what Wired calls an apperating system, a software platform that sits between the OS and apps. The apperating systems serve your most significant needs and become the interface for your phone. Dropbox is another apperating system taking over iOS. Both capture “an enormous share of the user’s attention” and effectively turn the phone into a social networking tool, which is ideal for people with no data plan.
Firefox is also trying to promote a third way by converting smartphones to html 5 platforms without app stores. In the Firefox vision of the near future you will access an app like you access a website.
More problems on the horizon for Apple and Google will come in the form of BitTorrent’s upcoming Bundles. Bundles according to Matt Mason, marketing VP at BitTorrent, are content packages with the app store – or transaction system – inside.
Content owners get to decide whether their content is for free or has a freemium element or is just a paid package – the secret lies in the type of key they provide for it. The essence of Bundles lies in not transferring the “Store” concept to the web but working instead with people’s natural desire to share content.
In operating systems and Stores the market appears to be looking for a third way and the same seems to be true now of devices with LG and Lenovo more than doubling their market share. The opportunity is almost certainly at the lower end of the smartphone market rather than at the high end.
The issue is how to deliver a good smartphone experience at low price and the answer to that is beginning to emerge. Apperating systems and the attraction of connectivity apps like What’sApp, and the momentum growing behind projects like Bundles, suggest that the mobile web is headed back to the basics. Connectivity and sharing.
Follow me on Twitter @haydn1701 or join me on Facebook. I am here on Google
by Susan Etlinger I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about social data: what it is, what it isn’t, how to measure it, where it’s going. But even the best strategy for collecting, analyzing and interpreting social data is just a set of pretty charts unless it is connected in a meaningful way [...]
A man waits in line outside the Apple store on 5th Avenue, awaiting the arrival of the new iphone 5 September 17, 2012 in New York. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)
This week the Wall St Journal reported that Apple and Samsung had been in negotiations to settle their long running patent conflicts, coming close to a settlement in February. No surprise, though – a deal still seems a long way off.
The conflict is set to get more bizarre before it gets better. The US International Trade Commission (ITC) is due to give a ruling soon, on a second Apple v Samsung trade dispute, in a way that will really muddy the water.
The ITC already made the headlines in June by ruling in favor of Samsung in a case known as 337- 794. In that case the ITC ruled that Apple infringed Samsung communications patents. It could lead to Apple products (like the iPhone 4) not being allowed into the US (the case is now under Presidential review).
The second case is 337-796, brought by Apple against Samsung. The ITC is due to give its final determination on August 1st, and is expected to rule that Samsung has infringed Apple patents, which in turn will lead to a block on older Samsung products.
So there you have it – potentially, in ten days time, both of the world’s major smartphone and device makers could have products banned from the USA. But there is a bigger issue. Can complex intellectual property issues be determined satisfactorily through litigation or does the Apple V Samsung case point up a need to do much better innovation management?
There’s an argument that says both companies could be managing their IP portfolios better and that’s where the real solution lies.Bloomberg summarizes the 4 infringements by Samsung in case 796 as:
a design patent for the iPhone’s flat front face with wider borders at the top and bottom. Also found to be infringed were a feature patent for a multi-touch screen; another patent that covers the translucent images for applications displayed on a phone or computer screen; and one for a way to detect when headphone jacks are plugged in.
Samsung has been providing background briefings on the case over the past week, focusing on the design patent where it points out with understandable incredulity, that Apple has managed to patent a shape.
On the other hand it is not unusual in the USA to patent “appearance”. Since 2008 it has been significantly easier to enforce design patents with a one-step proof: is the accused design substantially similar to that of the patent holder in the eyes of an ordinary observer? Design patents in the US are cheaper than utility patents, both to submit and to maintain. They are also issued more quickly. They are growing in popularity.
That’s a good thing, says patent expert Cheryl Milone at Article One Partners, because design is precisely what opens up new markets these days, particularly interface designs. That sentiment is echoed in an April 2013 article in National Law by former Director of the USPTO David J. Kappos.
That is the story of design — innovators blurring the lines of the traditional intellectual property realms of patents, trademarks and copyrights to deliver not just new products, but entirely new markets by matching form with function and making “complicated” “simple.” For these innovators, the new frontier for IP now and tomorrow is in the increasing convergence of IP embodied in design.
If that seems to echo Apples achievement then that s no surprise. It was specifically the look and feel of the iPhone that opened up the smartphone market.
Whatever goes on under the hood, Apple‘s big contribution to the market is the usability of its devices compared to what went before. Milone believes that deserves protection.
From Apple‘s point of view it wants protection for the ingenuity it puts into making devices usable. From Samsung’s, it wants protection for the billions it invests in device hardware and production line innovation.
Kappos argues that we need to move beyond this argument and recognize that the silos of patent, copyright and trademark don’t do justice to where IP is now headed – embodying products, service, software into a set of design concepts. That is a significant reflection too of where the US economy is headed, away from manufacturing towards creative IP.
It’s easier to make that argument if your economy is not dependent on the nuts and bolts (and expensive clean rooms) of modern device manufacture. And it is potentially an argument loaded with cultural relativism. So what’s the way round that?
While it might well be that new regulations are needed, something else is also afoot.
Companies need a much more comprehensive innovation architecture, one that gives them the ability to have better oversight of all stages in their product origination, manufacturing, interconnection, component, design and go to market planning. It’s not about a new invention product or device anymore. Innovation is about the whole relationship of a company to its ecosystem and market. In that sense Kappos has nailed an important point. The consequence is for companies to manage innovation better.
Follow me on Twitter @haydn1701 or join me on Facebook. I am here on Google
Mozilla’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gary Kovacs gives a press conference to present the new Firefox OS mobile operating system in Barcelona on February 24, 2013 (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)
As Android closes in on 1 billion activations, the companies grouped around Mozilla’s Firefox OS are asking how, and over what period of time, can we break down the Google/Apple OS duopoly?
I got talking earlier this week to Dan Applequist, of Spanish carrier Telefonica, a keen supporter of Firefox OS, about why we smartphone users should care.
The companies that have rallied around Mozilla and Firefox OS tend to be European and Asian. Telefonica of Spain and Deutsche Telekom are two of the main carriers involved and Mozilla initially announced that LG Electronics, Huawei, ZTE, and TCL Corporation committed to making Firefox OS devices. From the outset product launches were planned in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.
There’s a notable absentee from the list, the USA. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Firefox movement sees the web differently from the way it is seen in Silicon Valley. More of that below.
But what does it mean to those of us who are just everyday users of phones and the web? Do I really need to care about the OS? Mobile is the web, right?
Monopolies in smartphones are not new. Symbian, Nokia‘s now defunct OS, held a monopoly from the early 2000s onwards, peaking at over 300 million activations. Nobody much cared, or even sought to protect an OS lead, but then Apple and Google broke in to smartphones. Almost accidentally they began growing significantly large Apps stores, unleashing extraordinary developer innovation that all of us with smartphones benefited from.
The question Mozilla and its supporters raise is whether this Google, Apple duopoly is now going sour on us consumers.
Increasingly, what we understand by the World Wide Web is actually a mobile experience or a mobile web – with Apple and Google in charge. They do not just dominate our phones but also the web as a platform for innovative services. They have become a source of inertia. At least that is the argument of people in and around Mozilla. Both Apple and Android have stalled innovation.
Dan Applequist is the Open Web Advocate at Telefonica Digital. He is also a member of the W3C’s Technical Architecture Group. I spoke to him to get a better feel for why anyone other than a handset maker, a successful app developer, or a carrier should care about this argument.
Dan began by making a point that has been made frequently before:
“Firefox is inherently a web platform so there is no distinction between a mobile app and a web app, every app is a web app. It means you can start using a web app even when it is not on your phone. It changes the dynamics of what it means to use an application.”
Dan also points out that in contrast to iOS and Android, you can grab an app from anywhere on the web. You are not limited to an app in an app store.
I can’t say, as a web user, that I care a whole lot about that though. The idea of picking up apps from anywhere fills me with no little fear. Will they be infected with malware? Will they be setting me up for some surreptitious subscription that I was not alert to (a trick often used by app vendors in the old carrier model). Having more apps to choose from is not my idea of heaven either.
So what really is the point of Firefox OS, once you take down the flag and strip it of Mozilla’s profound sense of movement? Is it a way for carriers, for example, to muscle in on the growing app revenue stream? Is it a political movement?
Dan harks back to the old days when people chose the open web over AOL and Compuserve, two walled gardens that had much the same hold over the Internet that Apple and Google now have over smartphone experiences.
In those days the nascent Web was more difficult to use than the walled gardens of AOL or Compuserve. But people chose openness, he argues, even though it was difficult.
Content marketing has gone from nearly zero on marketers’ radar to about a billion mph in just a few short years. Organizations are realizing that content is effective – and cost-effective – for marketing as quickly as it becomes abundantly clear that content doesn’t just happen by itself. We’re here to help. On September 9 [...]
PALO ALTO, CA – APRIL 28: An Apple Inc., employee holds the new white iPhone 4 (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
News that Verizon might have to pay Apple as much as $14 billion for unsold iPhones lifts the lid on Apple‘s carrier strategy and explains why so many carriers still do not yet carry the iPhone – notably China Mobile. To secure rights to the iPhone Verizon appears to have made a purchase commitment from Apple for 2013 that is twice its 2012 sales.
Two issues arise from Verizon’s plight, both of which give us an insight into the smartphone business and Apple‘s near term future.
The first is, can Apple afford to continue this type of pressure? The second is that the Verizon problem is being interpreted as a result of falling iPhone sales. That could be an error.
First things first. One of the refreshing aspects of Apple‘s move into mobile back in 2007 was its full frontal assault on carrier power. At the time, plenty of people speculated that Apple was even able to negotiate a percentage of carrier usage revenues. Now we know how much carriers were prepared to promise Apple in order to stock the phone, thanks to the report by analyst Craig Moffett widely quoted in today’s press.
Bloomberg quotes the author of the report:
“It is likely that Apple would be reluctant to simply ignore these commitments, since many other carriers around the world are probably in a similar situation, and a simple amnesty would set an unwanted precedent. It is therefore unrealistic to think that Apple won’t extract some consideration for renegotiating these shortfalls.”
That of course is the first issue. Can you afford the brand fallout from squeezing carriers for phones they haven’t sold, to this degree, or do you compromise?
So far Apple has refused to comment on the Verizon deal but there are good reasons to think there will be changes in Apple‘s position.
The iPhone still has a big impact on carrier sales. T Mobile began stocking the iPhone back in Q1 (ending May) and even though it had less than a full quarter work in, the iPhone made up 31% of T Mobile’s smartphone sales in the quarter, and ended up being the top seller.
On the other hand T Mobile helped Apple to raise its market share from to 41.9% of U.S. smartphone sales from 38.4% a year before. And as the market tightens that reciprocal benefit will clearly become more important. It looks now as though Apple can counter the tougher times ahead by attracting more carriers in, quickly. Clearly though carriers eat into each others sales as the market slows. The result has to be more leeway from Apple.
Most analysts today are reporting this, though, as a result of falling iPhone sales. That is the second issue Bloomberg for example references a possible 22 percent decline in Apple‘s net income to $6.87 billion in the third fiscal quarter due to falling sales, and says “The report suggests sluggish demand for the iPhone.” Well not at the end of May obviously.
It is true that Apple has been notably slow in developing key channels, not just the carriers but also its own retail outlets. That also means there is plenty of room for upside, if it accelerates either. Its biggest challenge though is to make that strategy work in China, where most smartphone growth remains, and to a lesser extent, India. So for China Mobile has not signed up with Apple.
But the evidence suggests there is still growth available to the iPhone, just not growth this summer, a traditionally lean time for smartphones. Part of Verizon’s problem is it made the commitment back in 2010 and since then other carriers have had access to the iPhone, notably T Mobile.
But the effect of broadening the carrier base was also to bring in more first time smartphone owners (T Mobile had 6% more first timers than Apple tempted in through its other carriers). That has to count for something more than a dud deal.
Follow me on Twitter @haydn1701 or join me on Facebook. I am here on Google
Samsung Galaxy S4 – iPhone 4, iPad 3, Dodocase (Photo credit: Janitors)
The start of the week saw a lot of speculation about the future of the smartphone. Has it peaked/ has it not? Well, maybe but competition is intensifying anyway, particularly on price in the high and mid ranges.
It looks like Google will soon put $500 million into launching a new Motorola smartphone against Samsung and Apple products in a market where price reductions and deals will be commonplace.
There are doubts around where Google will pitch the phone with some speculation it will be at $199. That would be a nudge-type product but Motorola cannot be seen as Google‘s poodle – that’s the role of the Nexus. Motorola needs to launch a high end product, even if it intends to chase the lower end of the market later.
Samsung will very likely launch the Note 3 at the same time that the Motorola and new iPhone go on sale. It has begun aggressive pricing of the Galaxy S4 to ensure that it maintains market share in what looks like being a tough summer and Fall. The S4 is now, in many locations, cheaper than a basic iPhone, even though it costs more to produce.
Samsung is using extra margin in its new S4 family, where key component costs are lower, to make a statement about price rather than to claw more profit from its premium smartphones. When the original Galaxy S4 launched in Europe in April Samsung customers paid a premium of up to Euro 695, or $895 at today’s exchange rate.
Since then the price has come down to about Euro 550 (about $700) and eager customers are expected to pay about the same for the new S4 Active, which is due out soon in Sweden.
In contrast, the iPhone 5 costs £529 in the UK, nearly $790, for the 16 GB version and £699 or over $1,000 for the 64 GB version, on the Apple online store (of course you can get it “free” on contract). The original S4 is now $90 cheaper than the basic iPhone.
In India, where Samsung wants to capture big market share with the S4, the S4 Mini went on sale earlier this week at just $465, the Zoom at $500, according to the Economic Times.The Mini in the UK is priced at a whopping $645.
In India a regular S4 now priced at about $600. Samsung has said it wants the new S4s to make up as much as 20% of its Indian smartphone sales by year end:
“Galaxy S4 has received a phenomenal response since its launch in the Indian market. We are confident that Mini and Zoom will also do well…we expect the S4 range to comprise 15-20 per cent of our smartphone sales (volume) from India by the end of this year,” Samsung director (mobile business) Manu Sharma told PTI.
T Mobile has been selling the S4 for $579 contract free in the US over the past month (Google‘s version if $649). The cheapest iPhone 5 is $649 in the Apple store.
Pricing is always compounded by carrier deals but the relative costs of the S4 and iPhone 5, a new phone versus one nearing its anniversary, are instructive.
In the highly price sensitive US market Apple are much closer to Samsung and the S4. In Europe, a tough market right now with buyers sitting on their hands and inventory building up, Samsung has discounted already. And in India it has set the price of its cheaper S4 variants with an eye to gaining market share just as Apple gears up for a cheaper iPhone launch for the fast-developed markets.
Samsung’s pricing is aided by downgrading the chips, cameras and displays in it new S4s. It’s a hidden strategy that could prove very effective in a tight market. The Active has a lower quality display, camera and chip but additional cost in the dust and water proofing and in the more rugged casing. The Mini is a big cost saver and it seems the Zoom is too.
It means that variants of the S4 are priced to compete with whatever Apple comes out with this Fall with the Note 3 flying the flag as the premium phone.
The Note and S4 ranges cover price points from $465 to $800. Google will need its large marketing budget to make an impression in this range.
An artist uses the Samsung’s Galaxy Note at a Samsung booth at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 10, 2012 (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Samsung is in the final stages of developing its Note 3 smartphone, with a possible unveil on September 6th for launch in October. The Note would compete against the Sony Xperia and the HTC One and of course whatever new iPhone Apple has planned. It looks as though, once again, Samsung could be offering a family of devices rather than just one.
Meanwhile Samsung is also driving down the cost of its summer flagship the S4 (I’ll write about it later) to take on Apple on price.
Samsung launched the Galaxy S4 in April and followed up with three S4 variants in June. They are just coming to market now. It’s a novel strategy that allows Samsung to incorporate a variety of phone specifications under one flagship banner and gives diverse and less highly specified phones better brand equity in the battle with the iPhone.
Rumors around the Note 3 have been circulating for weeks but recently Samsung posted information relating to a possible launch. According to Phonesreview.co.uk
Samsung has posted UA Prof Files for models SM-N900T and SM-N900A that are believed to be for the Galaxy Note 3, and these User Agent Profile files are actually specification files that can often describe the model, screen size, and other specs ahead of the device going official.
Further research by Android Beat suggested there would be at least three variants of the Note 3 based on the discovery of 4 SM-N900 numbers.
Rumors about Samsung and Apple vary by geography. In the US, the expectation is that the iPhone 5s will not include a significant form factor change, nor an improved display, though there have been rumors of a Retina +. Many of the improvements are thought likely to come from the iOS 7 upgrade, providing, for example, slow motion video (already available on the S4), which also suggests an improved camera.
Rumors on the Indian sub-continent have the Note marked down as a full HD 6″ AMOLED display with an Octa processor and an aluminum casing. The next iPhone is rumored, there, to be a 4.8″ HD Retina with IGZO back panel.
The 6″ AMOLED would make the Note 3 very expensive to produce. The iPhone on the other hand would be at the mercy of Sharp‘s production lines and precarious finances. IGZO though has significant benefits. The Wall St Journal reports that IGZO “promises twice as much battery life, sharper images and a more than fivefold increase in the sensitivity of touch screens for smartphones and tablets.”
Sharp initially had overheating problems when ramping up IGZO production but has bigger issues with its own finances. Motley Fool reports: “the company’s cash reserves still continue to shrink down to just $1.70 billion by December, dropping by 16% since March 2012. During this period, Sharp’s current liabilities increased by 18.1% to $17 billion – nearly ten times as much as its cash reserves. Moreover, there is a $2.1 billion convertible bond due in September.”
Sharp took a $111 million investment from Samsung earlier in the year, and Samsung now has investments in both IGZO and Quantum Dot technology, the two ways Apple could produce an immediate, significant improvement in the Retina’s display quality.
It would be a surprise if Samsung opts for an HD AMOLED screen, especially if it intends to have a 6″ display on the Note 3 (it might be slightly smaller at 5.7″) because of the cost. Why not use LCD and IGZO? Or LCD and Quantum Dot? Both of these would be cheaper alternatives.That is, more or less, what Samsung did with the S4.
It launched with a highly impressive HD AMOLED display and then relaunched variants with LCD displays. It might similarly hedge its bets with the Note, though the IGZO display is said to be more sensitive to a Stylus, a big selling feature of the Note.
Whatever option it chooses though it is clear that Samsung is positioning the Note 3 at the very high end in order to further diversify choice for consumers as the iPhone 5s hits the market.