Analysis: Samsung downplays Apple's rumoured TV

Samsung's TV boss is making a classic mistake that Apple's rivals do all too often

Samsung’s AV product manager isn’t too concerned about Apple’s rumored effort to enter the TV market, saying in an interview that Samsung will triumph on picture quality.

Considering Apple's unparalleled success in the music player, smartphone and tablet markets, you would think that rival tech makers would stop underestimating the company. But Chris Mosely told Pocket-Lint that “How smart [TVs] are... great, but let's face it, that's a secondary consideration. The ultimate is about picture quality and there is no way that anyone, new or old, can come along this year or next year and beat us on picture quality.”

First of all, no one should assume that Apple can't come up with a TV that looks good, but that's beside the point. The real danger with Mosely's thinking is that he's looking at where the market is, not where it's going to be. It's a classic mistake that Apple's rivals make all too often.

True, Internet connectivity isn't currently a big deal. A DisplaySearch survey from last year found that smart TV capabilities were of little importance to consumers in deciding to get new TV. Pricing and picture quality were much bigger considerations.

But what Apple has done, time and again, is redefine what's important. Consider, for instance, the iPhone. When the iPhone launched in 2007, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion dismissed it because of its inferior battery life and bandwidth consumption. In a recent interview with the Globe and Mail, RIM director Roger Martin said “we couldn’t believe consumers would put up with that kind of battery inefficiency and that kind of network inefficiency.” Turns out, consumers don't care as much about those things if they can get a powerful Web browser, a slick music player and an expanding selection of apps on their smartphones.

Then there's the iPad. When Apple announced it in early 2010, Microsoft chairman and cofounder Bill Gates was one of the earliest skeptics. “You know, I’m a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard -- in other words a netbook -- will be the mainstream on that,” Gates said. Other critics noted that you could get a laptop with much better specs for the same $500. Since then, the iPad has gone mainstream, and the netbook market is drying up.

The common thread here is user experience. Apple products may not have the greatest tech specs, but their software is so easy to use that average consumers become entranced. They don't care about raw performance, they care about what the product can actually do for them.

Mosely, Samsung's TV boss, fails to recognize that Apple might pull off the same trick with televisions. Apple won't be the first company to offer a smart TV, but if history's any indication -- and if the rumors are true -- Apple will do it in a way that easier to use and therefore more enticing than the competition.

I don't expect Samsung to sing Apple's praises, and given that smart TVs haven't taken off yet, I understand why Mosely wouldn't think Internet connectivity is of utmost importance. But dismissing the allure of smart TV because it hasn't been a sales driver in the past seems like a big mistake.

Follow Jared on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ for even more tech news and commentary.

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