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Samsung vs. Apple

The Paradigm Shift in Mobile Technology

Samsung’s Galaxy 4S “phablet” will have a screen that is predicted to be 0.2 inches larger than it’s predecessor.  The inclusion of more innovative features for the 4S – flexible screen technology, eye-tracking software, an 8-core processor– are long shots at best.

Samsung is smartly capitalizing on Apple’s recent PR missteps, tanking stock price, and stagnant pile of cash. There is nothing extraordinarily innovative about Samsung’s new device, aside from the extravagant promotion by dancers donning top hats and the number “4” on their tuxedoed-clad backs.  In terms of the actual product and the actual technology, the 4S’s incremental improvements in technology will not make substantial impact on user experience or consumer value.

Where is the innovation?

While the 4S pitch rings as “better than the iPhone,” I credit Samsung for smartly spending their marketing dollars to build awareness now, while Apple goes silent. Samsung’s future pipeline of products, will indeed offer valuable innovation.

For years, Samsung has been investing alongside Intel to create the Tizen operating system: an open-source software platform that will create a robust and adaptable development environment, providing a consistent user experience across devices.  The Linux kernel and WebKit-based system integrates harmoniously with gadgets other than our phones, phablets and tablets – including our cars, appliances, smart TVs.

Which company has an integrated system of devices beyond the media realm? One who could integrate an open-source, flexible platform into its suite of products? Samsung.  Now we are talking innovation. 

Apple’s Reality Check

Innovation today means being open, transparent, integrated and creative.  Apple needs to make a radical shift to maintain leadership and brand equity.

Indisputably, Apple is known for innovation.  The company’s mission is to bring “the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software, and Internet offerings.”

The U.S. wireless market is nearly saturated; competition is fierce and only getting stronger. The “new, better, and faster features,” have become meaningless buzzwords. Innovation itself is a buzzword, but true innovation is much more than just bells and whistles.

Apple needs to rethink innovation as Steve Jobs would have, and renew its commitment to its mission bringing the best experience to the global market.  Apple currently has an untapped opportunity: improving global health, education, and economies. There are rumors that Apple is creating a lower cost iPhone later this year.  This move would be a step in the right direction, as Apple’s high price point is prohibitively expensive for the developing world. Beyond access to the device, the larger issue is operating system capability. This presents Apple with a large market opportunity, but the company would have to consider a major strategic shift: one to open-source software.

Modern Innovation: Creation of Shared Value

Apple’s closed-operating system has allowed Apple ultimate price and quality control. Nevertheless, regulation often stunts innovation. As a case study, let’s look at mobile health. Mobile phones promise to improve healthcare, acting as handheld portable healthcare devices, both in self-managed care, remote assistance, and more integrated solutions.

My own healthcare technology venture aims to deliver higher quality treatment at a more affordable price point – to help more consumers access mental health treatment. Open source technology was and continues to be a crucial component of our product development.

mHealth technology has facilitated new ways to diagnose malaria, tuberculosis, and hookworm, detect allergens and pathogens. In the future, our smart phones will have the ability to detect cancer, HIV, and other serious conditions based on a droplet of blood or saliva placed on our screens. These are meaningful technological developments.

Where can Apple live its mission of innovation?

The difficulty of global shared value creation lies in cost and technology delivery.  Apple needs to move beyond its comfort zone and innovate beyond the familiar.  If Apple indeed creates a lower-cost smartphone, and most importantly, employs an open-source operating system, I believe the company will reinvent itself, regain its position as a world-class market leader, and truly live its mission of global service and excellence.

About Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson left a burgeoning Wall Street career as a trader with Goldman Sachs to become a female leader in the world of technology.  She is currently the CEO and co-founder of TalkSession, Inc., an online counseling platform in beta mode, that will connect users with highly credible professionals for on-demand, mobile therapy and counseling sessions using proprietary algorithm matching and artificial intelligence.   With this cutting-edge technology, TalkSession, Inc. will not only fix inefficiencies in the healthcare system and help de-stigmatize therapy, but help people and inspire them to take risks.

Melissa’s yen for entrepreneurship and social impact was hard felt after exiting the largely male dominated world of finance, where she traded emerging market and commodity derivatives for Goldman Sachs for nearly four years.  Her technology career began when Melissa assumed the position of director of business development for Intercast Network, a rich-media interactive platform with a patent-pending technology that allows brands to deliver live content and utilize real-time analytics to increase brand and consumer engagement. She was then named Technology Editor of SCENE magazine, the recently announced publication of The New York Observer. Melissa has helped numerous companies in their digital media and technology innovation campaigns including the United Nations, Chanel, Forbes Magazine, Jetsetter, Publicis, the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, and the New York Stock Exchange.

For TalkSession, Melissa has cultivated a highly impressive Advisory Board, including top mental health physicians at Columbia University and Harvard Medical School, and an award-winning epidemiologist and design expert.

Melissa holds a BA from Barnard College in Economics and studied Chinese and global business strategy at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China. She earned her MBA from Columbia Business School, with a focus on new media, management, and social entrepreneurship.

For more information please visit www.melissathompson.com.

About Talk Session, Inc.

CEO and co-founder of TalkSession, Inc., an online counseling platform in beta mode, that will connect users with highly credible professionals for on-demand, mobile therapy and counseling sessions using proprietary algorithm matching and artificial intelligence.   With this cutting-edge technology, TalkSession, Inc. will not only fix inefficiencies in the healthcare system and help de-stigmatize therapy, but help people and inspire them to take risks.

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