Consumers benefit from clash of the titans

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

I took a photo of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note Edge last week and posted it on the Digital Life Facebook Page.

The Apple device was going on sale the day after, while the Samsung phablet would be available only next month. Still, I wanted to show readers that when it came to supersized smartphones, only these two mattered.

Tongue in cheek, I labelled that photo "BFF", which stands for Best Friends Forever - modern parlance for good friends.

A colleague, a self-confessed Apple fanboy, declared that the two "are so not BFFs". He jokingly added that he would flag my photo as inappropriate.

His consternation could stem from the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung for patent infringement, competition for smartphone market share or just plain and simple brand superiority.

No matter the reason, today's consumers simply love to take sides.

Like David and Goliath or Simon and Garfunkel, some names will forever be inextricably linked. (Consider, too, Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation; Nespresso and Keurig; McDonald's and Burger King; Hermes and Louis Vuitton; Windows and Macintosh; Nikon and Canon.) The list of clashing titans is endless.

The desire to see two giants battle to the death for world dominance is human nature, but few people see the benefits of making peace and having all the parties survive.

I find it hard to take sides in certain things. In my home, there are Samsung tablets, Sony phones, Windows laptops and Apple iMacs. I have owned various Xbox and PlayStation game consoles over the years and the same goes for the clothes I wear and the food I eat.

I do not stick with one brand and I get to pick from the best which are available. I have a favourite cinema (Shaw at nex in Serangoon), but sometimes, convenience dictates that I catch a movie at Cathay in Ang Mo Kio Hub.

At other times, I like to point out that relatively few people know the hits Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel recorded as individuals because it is the music they made together which was much more memorable.

For those of you who perpetuate the ongoing conflict between Apple and Samsung, or any brand for that matter, get over yourself.

As consumers, we benefit from what competition offers - a wider selection of goods from companies who strive to do better to win us over.

I hope more will be like me and prefer to enjoy being overwhelmed by what is available.

I like the fact that companies are continuously trying to outdo one another to deliver their best products and services because no company can be the best at everything it does.

Singapore Airlines, for example, may top the ranks of airline excellence awards, but it also charges more for a ticket. I prefer to pay a little less and still fly in comfort with Emirates or Cathay Pacific. Without them, I would be left with only one airline and one huge travel bill.

If Microsoft had beaten Apple into the ground in the 1990s, there would be no iPad and I would be stuck in the tragedy that is Windows 8. Instead, I can find solace in OSX Mavericks on my iMac.

If the reverse had happened and Apple had won, consumers would be stuck with the walled-off iTunes software and iOS operating system on phones and higher prices for their laptops.

If Samsung kills its competition, consumers will be left with plastic smartphones and essentially the same phone dribbled out in many different sizes, some months apart.

You will find that even the most bitter of rivals can be friends. Look at Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger; IBM and Apple; and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

BFFs they may never be, but there is no need for you to take sides if you can benefit from that rivalry.


This article was first published on Sep 24, 2014.
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