Apple may face challenges from Samsung, Facebook, supply chain

Apple  finds itself in the news this morning, though more as a target than a newsmaker:

• Smartphone rival Samsung launched its latest iPhone challenger, the Galaxy S III, today in Europe and the Middle East. Reuters reports high demand for the devices, which reportedly had more pre-sales than any other phone running Google’s Android OS. But the new Galaxy is only part of the story — the real meat may be Samsung’s launch of a music service intended to rival Apple’s iTunes store. The new service, dubbed Music Hub, has a catalog of 19 million songs, and uses cloud-based technology acquired from Samsung’s purchase earlier this month of Palo Alto-based mSpot. The service will stream on a wide range of devices, from smartphones to clock radios to, potentially, TVs and refrigerators. The blog Pocket-lint reports that the service aims to take on all comers, with a cloud locker that challenges Apple’s iCloud, streaming radio that challenges LastFM and Oakland-based Pandora, and an extensive catalog that challenges Spotify. “We aren’t about niches,” Samsung executive TJ Kang told Pocket-lint. “We want to have the largest catalog. We want to be bigger than Apple.” The Galaxy S III and Music Hub are expected to launch in the U.S. in June.

• There are more rumors that Facebook will get into the smartphone game. The New York Times reports that the Menlo Park social networking giant has hired several veteran Apple engineers who worked on the iPhone development, and hopes to have a phone of its own released by next year. The Times reports this is Facebook’s third try at making a smartphone, and the project remains cloaked in secrecy. “Mark (Zuckerberg) is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms,” one Facebook source told the Times.

While some critics question whether the risks Facebook faces in becoming a phone-maker outweigh the rewards, others say any bid to enter the risky and expensive hardware industry is doomed from the start. On the other hand, Forbes’ Robert Hof writes that while a Facebook phone makes no sense, the consumer knowledge it would potentially gain through the development process might be what Facebook is actually after.

• Meanwhile, Apple is said to be running into supply-chain problems over the release of its new line of MacBooks. Taiwan-based DigiTimes reports there are not enough workers at Apple’s Chinese manufacturers to keep up with the strong demand, and that some labor has been outsourced to keep up with production schedules. DigiTimes reports the new laptops began shipping out in April, and production is expected to ramp up in June in anticipation of a July launch. But don’t cry for Apple just yet — DigiTimes’ sources say Apple may end up shipping as many as 19 million MacBooks in 2012, up as much as 50 percent from last year.


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  • Markus Unread

    “19 million MacBooks in 2012” – Ah, tablets; The Death Of The Laptop.

  • dermbuilder

    Tablets will NEVER replace laptops for a couple of reasons, primarily a lack of versatility. Tablets make really lousy word processors for instance, they aren’t suitable for working with spreadsheets, and most really intensive applications are not handled well enough by tablets.

  • Word processing solved by plugin keyboard. Spreadsheets are hell even on good monitors, and when I do MRP analysis I organize printouts on legal paper that have 300 print columns. So in the future we will see foldout screens for laptops that double the width, and virtual keyboards as well (projected). We used to discuss these things in the mid 1980’s when we took our HP Integral PC’s and laptops to dinner with us in Beverly Hills.

  • Sorry, foldout screens and virtual keyboards for tablets.

  • dermbuilder

    Sorry Dale, but those things are what we call workarounds. By the time you add all that, you have something that is actually more cumbersome to lug around than a good laptop. I will agree that desktops (I think they should actually be called towers) have become kind of obsolete, except for corporate applications where corporate management wants them bolted down. A good full featured laptop can do anything a good desktop can do, plus you can carry it around with you.

    A little over 2 years ago I bought a laptop with a dual core 64 bit processor, over 3 gigs of RAM, a full size keyboard with tactile feedback, a 320 gig HD, and a DVD burner, and also important, it only cost $400. (today they cost even less) Granted it is a little hard to stuff in a coat pocket, but what tablet could I use to keep a daily journal of over 250 pages, and two novels one 170 pages and one 245 pages so far, plus a photographic archive of over 9,000 images, plus a Photo Shop clone and a focus enhancement program to restore and enhance the photographs. Granted tablets will make inroads, but with people like me with SERIOUS computing needs, tablets will never really cut it.