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2014: The year Samsung copied Apple and Apple copied Samsung

An interesting plot twist is playing out in the smartphone industry this year. In a scramble to identify new catalysts as smartphone sales growth continues to slow,Apple and Samsung will both seemingly make huge strategic shifts that aim to broaden the appeal of their high-end handsets.

Apple, rumor has it, will launch two new smartphones in 2014 that both have larger displays. Numerous reports suggest that the company is planning an iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch screen, as well as an iPhone phablet with an even larger 5.5-inch display.

Samsung, rumor has it, will launch a new premium smartphone that features a high-end metal housing and possibly other premium materials. The device was supposedly pictured for the first time earlier this week, though a shroud blocked its case from view.

In other words, Apple will cave and finally launch a big-screen phone, like Samsung… and Samsung will cave and finally launch a metal phone, like Apple.

It’s an interesting twist to the smartphone industry narrative that has been years in the making.

As we saw earlier this week, Apple has known for years that consumers want smartphones with bigger displays. In an internal presentation from Apple executives made public during the current patent trial between Apple and Samsung, a slide titled “Consumers want what we don’t have” showed that Apple felt it needed to make larger iPhones back in 2012.

And likewise, Samsung has undoubtedly taken note of years worth of criticism from tech journalists, bloggers and consumers who are unhappy with the cheap feeling plastics Samsung uses on its phones.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 2.10.19 PM

So, by the looks of things, both tech giants are investing heavily to offer new products that address these concerns.

Apple will give smartphone buyers what they want by launching new handsets with larger displays, just as Samsung phones have had for years. Samsung will give smartphone buyers what they want by launching new handsets built out of premium materials, just as Apple has done for years.

Down the road a bit when we look back, 2014 will seemingly be the year Samsung copied Apple and Apple copied Samsung, both seeking new ways to promote smartphone sales growth.

Will either succeed? The answer to that question will be the biggest story in the smartphone industry moving through the second half of the year and into 2015.


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