OWL Magazine Korea

“Kim Dae-won’s ‘No Second Place: Positioning Strategies that Distinguish Apple, Samsung, and LG'”

Since the release of the “iPhone” by Apple in 2007, the mobile phone industry has undergone significant changes. With the introduction of a new concept of mobile phones called “smartphones,” which were previously unseen, traditional mobile phones were dubbed “feature phones” or “dumb phones,” and the mobile phone market entered a new phase.

As of 2024, when referring to “mobile phones,” the natural association leads to “smartphones,” indicating a shift in the era. Moreover, Apple, the company that first introduced the “iPhone” and has continuously upgraded it, is currently competing as one of the top two companies worldwide.

“The Bright and Dark Sides of Apple, Samsung, and LG’s Strategies in the Smartphone Market”

Examining the current atmosphere, until recently, there was competition between Samsung’s phones and Apple’s iPhones, with Samsung offering new technologies, products, and competitive pricing. However, Apple’s iPhone remains dominant.

At one time, LG also competed in the smartphone market by consistently releasing innovative smartphones. However, due to the dominance of existing players like the iPhone and Galaxy, along with the rise of Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Huawei, LG eventually withdrew from the smartphone business.

The book discusses how strategies in response to the smartphone market have shaped the competition, using examples from Apple, Samsung, and LG to discuss positioning strategies for new markets.

The book was published in 2011, about 3-4 years after the emergence of smartphones. Despite being published a few years later, the book reflects the market situation based on the established trends at that time.

“Samsung and LG’s Strategies in Counteracting Apple’s iPhone”

The book discusses how Samsung and LG, two leading electronic companies in South Korea, responded before or after the release of the iPhone. The author emphasizes how these initial response strategies ultimately led to significant differences in outcomes.

Samsung was preparing for the smartphone era before the launch of the iPhone, and although it didn’t engage in direct competition, it had plans to defend its position. It developed the Omnia series, producing smartphones. (Although the Omnia series later faded into obscurity with the rise of the Galaxy series, at least it had a form of smartphones.)

On the other hand, LG did not anticipate the smartphone market at all. The author criticizes LG for not adequately preparing for the changing market despite the success of its past Chocolate phone. LG’s response was limited to producing slightly better phones compared to feature phones, rather than creating smartphones to rival the iPhone.

Samsung anticipated the smartphone era and experimented with products like the Omnia to adapt to market changes. However, LG failed to do so, leading to Samsung continuing to compete with the iPhone through its Galaxy series while LG eventually withdrew from the smartphone business.

“The Situation Before the Arrival of the iPhone in South Korea”

Reading the book, one recalls the situation in South Korea just before the arrival of the iPhone. The features embedded in the iPhone were revolutionary and highly anticipated.

Before introducing the iPhone, Apple first released a product called the “iPod Touch,” which resembled the current iPhone but lacked phone capabilities. It was groundbreaking at the time as it allowed wireless internet access via WiFi using a portable device.

The product that added phone capabilities became the iPhone, introducing us to a new world of smartphones upon its release.

While Apple introduced the iPod Touch and prepared for the iPhone’s launch, Samsung was still offering traditional feature phones. Samsung was relatively quick to introduce the Omnia, joining the smartphone competition. Meanwhile, LG remained focused on feature phones.

“First Korean Phone Modeled after Motorola’s Product”

The book also introduces the first phone in South Korea, modeled after Motorola’s DynaTAC 8000X, developed by Samsung Electronics in preparation for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

“If You Don’t Adapt to Change…”

Even before the advent of smartphones, the world was undergoing rapid changes. In modern society, failure to adapt leads to obsolescence, especially in fiercely competitive technological markets.

LG Electronics’ failure to properly respond to the smartphone market serves as a clear example. Over a decade has passed since the advent of smartphones, and now, various technologies beyond simple smartphones, such as AI, electric cars, and reusable satellites, are being introduced.

The growth in the AI field is particularly remarkable, with rapid changes and advancements. NVIDIA’s soaring stock prices, driven by its monster-like performance in the core semiconductor for AI, the GPU, may seem natural.

“Rapidly Changing Modern Society”

Alongside the emergence of AI, modern society is changing at a much faster pace than before. What used to take one or two years to change now seems to occur on a monthly or weekly basis.

In today’s rapidly changing society, failure to keep up with trends may lead to obsolescence. To avoid repeating the situation experienced by LG Electronics in the past, companies must anticipate and prepare for the changing atmosphere of modern society.

“No Second Place: Positioning Strategies that Distinguish Apple, Samsung, and LG”