With the release of the Galaxy S6, Samsung struck an early blow in 2015 against the market-leading Apple iPhone smartphone. 2014 was certainly a difficult year for the Korean consumer electronics manufacturer, with their major rival Apple racking up numerous successes, - including becoming the first company to achieve a market capitalisation of over $700 billion, and recording the highest single-quarter profit in business history - while Samsung profits plummeted by 60 percent.
Apple overtakes Samsung
To compound of the difficulties of Samsung during 2014, the research organisation Gartner recently released a study which suggests that Apple now sells more mobile devices worldwide than Samsung. Although Apple had been the most profitable mobile-related company for sometime, the fact that it now shifts more units than Samsung into the bargain was indicative of a seismic move in the marketplace.
Early in 2014, Samsung had indicated its intention to overtake Apple as the most significant manufacture of mobile devices in the world. But this bullish sentiment now seems little more than delusional, as Apple has achieved increasingly significant market shares in East Asia, where Samsung has traditionally been dominant.
Meanwhile, a raft of manufacturers from the same East Asian region that Samsung hails from have equally taken a chunk out of the Korean company's market dominance. Companies such as Huawei and Lenovo are establishing themselves as recognisable brands, and offering affordable solutions which appeal to consumers in East Asia.
So the Galaxy S6 is an extremely critical device for Samsung, as it attempts to regain some of its lustre. And the Korean Corporation has once more signalled its intention to meet Apple head-on, firstly by referencing the company with several barbs during press conferences and unveiling events, and secondly by including one particular form of technology alongside the Galaxy S6 smartphone.
Samsung Pay is Samsung's attempt to respond to the release of Apple Pay last year. These two competing mobile payment systems are expected to catapult the technology into the mainstream. Alongside Google and its Wallet system, there are now three huge corporations encouraging consumers to make purchases via contactless payments. This could be very significant for the future of the technology, with market unless already predicting that mobile payment systems will collectively constitute a marketplace of around $130 billion by the end of the decade.
Apple Pay Head Start
Already to some degree Samsung is playing catch-up. Apple Pay was launched back in September 2014, and the hugely popular corporation has already cornered a significant piece of the US mobile payments market. There was a huge amount of buzz when Apple first announced his payment system, and the fact is that no brand on the planet has quite the same cachet as the Cupertino-based company.
This is not only evidenced by this year overwhelming success of the company, but also by the fact that Apple ranked first in the authoritative and prestigious Interbrand survey in 2014. This would be a huge achievement in and of itself, but it is also worth pointing out that the 2014 survey carried out by Interbrand represented the first time that Coca-Cola hasn't topped the list since this beginning of the 21st century.
So Apple has a coolness factor which is almost impossible for any company to match. Therefore, if Samsung pay is to become a big success then it must surely offer superior functionality to their Apple rival. The iPhone has established itself as the market-leader in the smartphone market, and Apple has more ammunition coming just next month.
The release of the first smartwatch from the California corporation, the Apple Watch, is predicted to light the firework beneath the smartwatch marketplace. As of yet, this is still a poorly marketed and defined niche which certainly hasn't caught the imagination of the general public. However, when Apple releases a device for the first time this impression usually changes pretty rapidly, and analysts are certainly expecting this to occur with the Apple Watch.
Apple is viewing this smartwatch as very much a companion to the iPhone series, and Apple Pay will be installed with the smartwatch from day one. Obviously the idea of making payments via a watch is considerably more convenient than utilising a smart phone, and it is certain that Apple will be pushing this element of the Apple Watch very strongly.
However, Samsung has already agreed an impressive array of contracts and collaborations for its proprietary payment system. Samsung Pay will work with both NFC-based and traditional point-of-sale systems. Samsung is already looking at an install base of 30 million retailers around the world to support this technology, and the ubiquity of the Android operating system which drives Samsung devices could help make this a hugely successful technology.
What this means for travel-related businesses is that offering compatibility with mobile payments and mobile marketing solutions will be increasingly important. A multitude of features useful to tourists are currently being trialled, tested and tentatively introduced for smartwatches, including mobile compatible boarding passes. And as Samsung Pay and Apple Pay become more widely accepted by the general public, so mobile payments will become a more significant part of the travel industry.
This is particularly true as travellers obviously want convenience when they are away from home, and both the Samsung and Apple mobile payment systems, coupled with technology such as the Apple Watch, will clearly offer this valuable trait to tourists.
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