Long-Term vs. Short-Term

As our office’s resident Apple geek, I often find myself in conversations about the company, its products and competitors. Considering my working world is well outside the realm of tech, these conversations tend to be far more casual than the geeky, and often overly informed, banter I enjoy online.

Lately, these conversations focus less on Apple’s offerings and more on the company’s relation to Amazon and Samsung. I find myself being asked if I relish in Amazon’s struggles to turn a profit (which I don’t) or if I’m tempted by some of the newest features on phones like Samsung’s Galaxy 3 (which I’m not).

I’m a big fan and customer of both Apple and Amazon. I even love my Samsung TV, but tend to be less than impressed by their philosophy, which seems to emphasize creating slightly better (in the case of their TV’s) or more feature rich (in the case of their phones and tablets) products at a comparable price to their competitors. When it comes down to it, Apple and Amazon seem to be looking down the road while Samsung is overly focused on the here and now.

Apple and Amazon are in it for the long haul

Apple and Amazon are playing long-term games. Yes, they go about it it differently, but both seem to have clear visions for their future. Years from now, I still believe that Apple will be the place where I buy my devices and my content (with the possible exception of books) and Amazon will be where I go to shop for all other physical products (and my ebooks and audiobooks, as they seem very focused on the space). Apple seeks to get there by offering quality products and a polished experience at a premium while Amazon looks to succeed through their diversity of offering, ease of purchase and economies of scale.

Samsung smart, but short-term approach

Let’s compare this to Samsung. Like it or not, they’re killing it right now, both in sales and marketing. Their products are well received and their advertising strikes at the short-term desires of prospective smartphone customers. But when you take a step back, all they’re really competing on features rather than any kind of a long-term vision. Slapping together two phones to swap data sounds really cool, but in reality the phone’s been out for several months and I’m yet to see two people doing this out in the world. Much like Apple’s Siri, it’s a feature that sells devices, not one that makes them especially useful or makes you likely to stick with Samsung in the long run.

Why does the long-term outcome matter more than the short-term results?

Amazon is willing to grow their future business at the expense of current profits. Apple is willing to ignore today’s feature requests for the sake of focusing on tomorrow’s experience. While this has and will continue to leave both companies vulnerable, it’s what I believe with inevitably lead them to continued innovation and success. With every passing year, I buy more types of things from Amazon. Where they were once only my bookstore, they are now my first stop for purchasing anything from a new camera to diapers for my toddler. As Apple refines its cloud offerings and aligns their platforms, they retain not only my business on their devices, but my data.

Both have a long way to go. Amazon is only now starting to focus on higher margin areas and Apple has had their fair share of challenges with services like Siri, iCloud and Maps. Yet their long-term mentality gives me faith that these initiates will continue to improve and, eventually, pay off big time for the companies and their customers. On the other hand, Samsung may be the brand I chose for my television today. They may offer mobile devices that appeal to many, but I don’t see them doing anything that gives people a reason to stick around when someone other company with a short-term mentality comes along with something better.

  • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

    Hmm. I think you’ll find Samsung has a far stronger strategy than just some cool stuff to woo the marketplace, especially the business one:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2012/06/18/samsungs-pincer-movement-android-strategy-to-winning-the-mobile-enterprise/

    http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/06/30/samsungs-mobile-strategy-diversify/

    • http://michaelschechter.me/ MSchechter

      I think their short term strategy is very strong. I also think this is a part of it. There’s just very little that’s “sticky”. Very little reason that someone can’t do this better. And without their own operating system there’s still only so much they can do.

      I don’t think their strategy is a bad one, but how well did focusing on the needs of CIOs work out for Blackberry in the end? And while, technologically Apple may lag in the business world from an IT standpoint they seem do be doing a great job of penetrating the conference room for both Forbes 1000 and small businesses alike.

      • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

        The difference is, BlackBerry got lazy and assumed they’d always have the CIO audience. They didn’t plan for employees wanting to bring their own handsets into work and make them secure instead. This is where both Apple and Samsung especially took over.

        • http://michaelschechter.me/ MSchechter

          Too true. There was a great episode of a podcast called Hypercritical where they discussed how tech is essentially becoming office supplies. We’re almost at a point where, like the pen you use, less offices care about which devices you use. I still marvel at how rarely I really hit the wall of using a Mac in a windows based office.

          • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

            Speaking of hitting a wall, I have a Word 2011 for Mac issue – can you help? ;-)

          • http://michaelschechter.me/ MSchechter

            I rarely use the thing, but hit me. May not be able to help, but might know of a few people who can.