Sunday, September 15, 2013

An interesting take on Samsung and the Apple A7 chip in the iPhone 5S

I read an interesting article by Daniel Dilger published by AppleInsider titled After its disastrous Exynos 5 Octa, Samsung may have lost Apple's A7 contract to TSMC.

I see three core arguments in the article about the A7 chip:

  1. Apple's core news is the A7.  Everyone missed it (and even downplayed it once announced)
  2. Samsung has been doing quite poorly in many ways that are being ignored.
  3. Apple is indeed still innovating

I didn't see any coverage of a new chip from Apple ahead of the announcement.  The media seemed to be falling all over itself with how much was already known and how many leaks showed that Apple is utterly failing with secrecy.  If the A7 (or the M7) was an important secret, Apple has been successful with secrecy.  Apple has even gotten the world to mostly look the other way AFTER making announcements!
And, as the media pre-determined what important moves Apple needed to make next (cheap phone for China and the developing world), disclosed ahead of time details about the 5C, and then announced that Apple failed.  But what is Apple doing?  Most media does not know what Apple is trying to accomplish, but zdnet's Jason Hiner proposed an idea.

The idea that Apple might know what it is doing seems against much mainstream media reporting.  

When Apple comes out with a new technology such as the A7, Apple ships tens of millions , and ships for years.  Apple gets value from their engineering work.

Is Samsung doing well or poorly in some ways that are ignored?  In the Samsung mobile profits article is an argument that Samsung is pumping unwanted product into channel inventory.  I did not know and had not heard of the fragmentation within the S4.  I thought that at least within one phone from one manufacturer, they were the same with the same types of components.  even Wikipedia reports that outside the US they use the Exynos 5 Octa CPU, while in the US they use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600.  They are playing with the Exynos chip, activating all 8 cores instead of having the  4 "big" or 4 "little" cpus active independently.

How do these Samsung technology choices affect consumers?  Are there better CPUs in Android Samsung devices that truly benefit consumers in application performance?  Do they have lower power usage for much longer battery life?

I am confused by Samsung products, and I am trying to understand.  Time will tell if Samsung is actually doing well longer term.

Apple innovation?

Apple is not doing what everyone seems to think it is supposed to be doing.  It is doing things its own way.  
  • The first 64-bit phone CPU
  • The first usable mobile fingerprint security system
  • Continued important improvements to its cameras
  • A separate processor for continuous motion sensor data gathering
  • Software updates to fully integrate the hardware improvements into software usage
It is true that the value of these innovations is not utterly clear.  If history is any indications, folks will buy the 5S by the millions, and the value will be proven over time.  They are great while not clear, and will likely be even greater once the value is unlocked and illustrated over time.

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