Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

In the Battle with Apple's iPhone, Google Picks Up Where Samsung Left Off

By Sam Mattera - Jan 8, 2015 at 9:49AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Google's ad campaign may not be as vicious as Samsung's, but the search giant is using similar tactics against Apple.

If it wasn't for Samsung's (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) mammoth advertising budget, its Galaxy handsets may never have emerged as legitimate rivals to Apple's (AAPL 2.62%) iPhone.

Although the company hasn't been able to unseat Apple as America's largest smartphone vendor, it has certainly intensified the competition. Shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars, Samsung recruited the brains behind hit comedy films, Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary, to take the fight to Apple, actively mocking its most dedicated customers in a series of wide ranging ads that even earned the praise of Apple's top brass.

But Samsung's best days could be behind it: The ads no longer carry the same biting wit and its handsets no longer dominate the phablet category it helped popularize.

Enter Google (GOOG 2.68%) (GOOGL 2.63%) -- the search giant's latest ad campaign continues the fight that Samsung started, though in a much more subtle fashion.

Be together, not the same
Initially unveiled in October, Google has been heavily promoting the latest version Android -- Android 5.0 Lollipop -- in a series of television advertisements that emphasize the key advantage of its mobile ecosystem: diversity.

Unlike Samsung, Google is not actively targeting Apple, but the campaign's tag line ("be together, not the same") certainly seems like a jab aimed at Apple's business model. Although the company now offers two flagship iPhones, they differ only marginally (namely the screen size).

In contrast, there are hundreds of different Android handsets, with different screen sizes, price points, and features. Since the beginning, choice has been Android's key selling feature -- more than six years after the release of the first Android-powered phone, that has not changed.

A stalemate?
But despite swamping the iPhone with hundreds of competing devices, the battle between the two ecosystems appears to have reached somewhat of a stalemate. In the US, Android powers just over the half smartphones sold, according to Kantar Worldpanel, roughly the same percentage it held since the first quarter of 2013. Over that same period, Apple's iPhone market share has also held steady at about 40%.

Android's growth has been more robust on a global basis, with emerging market consumers flocking to the cheaper handsets offered by a diverse cast of Android manufacturers. According to IDC, Android's share of the global smartphone market has grown from roughly 75% to about 85% since 2012.

Optionality may be overrated
With Apple likely to report record iPhone 6 sales at the end of the month, Google's fall campaign seems to have accomplished little.

And though there are now several highly regarded Android handsets, the differences between them are arguably modest -- certainly not significant enough to entice iPhone buyers to switch to Google's ecosystem. Sony offers waterproof Android handsets -- Samsung a removable battery. Motorola's flagship Moto X can be designed by the user with custom colors and materials. But iPhone cases and accessories exist to satisfy all these needs -- Android hardware no longer offers any uniquely compelling experiences.

That might change as radical concepts like Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge could bring Google's ecosystem back to the forefront of hardware innovation. But for the time being, "together, not the same" means little when the differences are so minor.

Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
AAPL
$169.24 (2.62%) $4.32
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL
$119.70 (2.63%) $3.07
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOG
$120.65 (2.68%) $3.15
Sony Corporation Stock Quote
Sony Corporation
SONY
$85.33 (2.17%) $1.81

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
373%
 
S&P 500 Returns
122%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/11/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.