A new era of smartphone wars is about to begin

    Smartphone makers like Apple are turning to AI to inject new life into their devices.


    Apple, Samsung, and Google are all turning to AI to inject new life into their devices.They’ll be using it to sell phones to consumers who’ve become less enthusiastic about them.It signals a new era in the fight between smartphone makers, which used to be vicious and intense.

    You almost certainly own a smartphone, though you probably feel like you’ve owned the same one for years.

    Where industry giants like Apple and Samsung once waged fierce smartphone wars to give consumers increasingly high-tech devices to put in their pockets, these devices have become ubiquitous and quotidian in recent years, their capabilities seemingly plateauing.

    With billions of people owning smartphones, the companies selling them have had to do less to convince users to buy them.

    Competition may have died down but the original smartphone wars were so intense for Steve Jobs he once declared that he’d start a “thermonuclear war.”

    The late Apple founder was furious about Android, the smartphone operating system Google unveiled just 11 months after the first iPhone was unveiled in January 2007. He felt Apple’s hard work had been stolen.

    “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said, according to an account in his authorized biography by Walter Isaacson.

    The animosity went beyond Google. Apple executives were infuriated in 2010 by the Samsung Galaxy S, which they thought was a carbon copy of the iPhone. Samsung’s decision to partner with Google to integrate Android into its devices — after years of being a key supplier to Apple — caused more bad blood.

    Steve Jobs wanted to start a “thermonuclear war” over Google’s Android.

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Years of fierce litigation over alleged patent infringements followed, and intense gamesmanship as smartphone makers vied to sell consumers on their visions of pocketable hardware.

    Though some years have passed since these bitter feuds — a court settlement in 2018 over patents may have played its part in ending themthere are signs that a new era of the smartphone wars is about to begin. This time, it is about to be supercharged by AI.

    Smartphone wars in the AI era

    The smartphone market has been lagging. Statistics from data firm Canalys showed that 1.14 billion smartphones were shipped in 2023, down 4% from 2022.

    People seem to be holding onto their existing phones for longer, too. Data published in November by business services firm Assurant found that the average age of devices traded in or upgraded was just over 3 1/2 years. The industry had come to expect consumers to upgrade every one to two years, but it’s hard to blame consumers for the shift.

    Apple has often unveiled new iPhone models that look nearly identical to the one before. New features can seem incremental or pointless, too. The iPhone 15 Pro, which has the same 6.1 inch “Super Retina XDR display” as the iPhone 14 Pro, swapped its ring/silent switch for an “action Button.” A 6-core GPU replaced a 5-core one. The story is similar for Samsung’s Galaxy series and Google’s Pixel phones.

    But generative AI looks like it will end the era of small changes.

    Apple, Samsung, and Google are all loudly talking about how they will use the technology to inject new life into their devices.

    Earlier this month, Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off day one of the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference by revealing Apple Intelligence, a suite of new AI features aimed at revamping the company’s full roster of hardware and set to be released later this year.

    Apple Intelligence features were unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference.


    The company said that, on iPhones, Apple Intelligence would help users “enhance their writing” on everything from emails, messages, and documents to summarizing audio and enhancing virtual assistant Siri. Apple has also struck a deal with ChatGPT maker OpenAI to integrate the buzzy chatbot more deeply into its operating system.

    iPhones drove more than half the company’s revenue — $200.6 billion of its $383.3 billion net sales in its last fiscal year.

    The company will be banking on Apple Intelligence being a hit with consumers, potentially revitalizing sales in markets like China. There, people are lapping up new devices from domestic rivals, such as Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro. According to figures from Counterpoint, Chinese iPhone sales dropped 19% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024.

    The Huawei Mate 60 rivals the latest iPhone.

    Wang Gang/Getty Images

    Google and Samsung have been just as busy.

    Last month, Google demoed its AI assistant, Project Astra, at its I/O conference. Supported by its multimodal Gemini model, it’s been designed to provide real-time conversation and support on Pixel phones. The new slate of Pixel phones, usually revealed in the fall, will be showcased on August 13 instead.

    The company also announced other AI features, which would help detect nuisance calls, create and drop AI-generated images into apps like Gmail, and allow users to quickly retrieve information from huge PDFs by asking simple questions.

    At an event in Paris next month, Samsung is planning to reveal updates to “Galaxy AI,” its attempt to introduce “meaningful intelligence” with communication that will feature on its Galaxy S24 smartphone lineup.

    Samsung Galaxy S24 lineup.


    The South Korean tech giant must be hoping to regain its crown as king of the smartphone market. It lost it last year, data from market research firm IDC shows, as Apple secured the largest market share.

    The market may have begun to feel stale after years of uninspiring updates to products you already own, but as they harness and build hype about AI, smartphone makers see 2024 as an open playing field.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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