The smartphone wars take a new twist as Apple [AAPL] preps the Fall release of the iPhone 5, with Foxconn leader Terry Gou promising the coming smartphone will "put Samsung's Galaxy III to shame," when it ships, a report claims.
[ABOVE: Is this the iPhone 5? The latest published patents suggest cameras in a different place, a new dock connector and a larger screen -- though the patent was filed in 2008. Image c/o FreePatentsOnline.]
Gou was speaking during Foxconn parent company, Hon Hai's annual shareholders meeting. Some may choose to take his comments with a pinch of salt, after all, Samsung's Android-based phones are selling strongly and his promises could be construed as evidence the Korean conglomerate has Taiwan's Foxconn and by inference Apple, rattled.
Alternatively, his bluster could be justified, meaning the iPhone 5 will see Apple truly begin to fight back to protect its franchise for the world's biggest selling individual smartphone. Whichever way you look at it, it seems wise to expect the Android/Apple war will intensify across the Holiday season.
In comments reported by Focus Taiwan (citing China Times) it's made pretty clear Gou has had enough, telling shareholders his lifetime goal has been to defeat Samsung, a company he accused of having a "track record of snitching on its competitors."
Gou also confirmed that Foxconn "has an exclusive agreement with Corning Inc., an American manufacturer of glass, on large panel supply." The exclusive deal means no other smartphone (or, indeed, television) manufacturer can hope to use the tough Gorilla Glass used inside the iPhone.
Competition between Google's Android Empire and Apple's iOS constituency is turning vicious, it seems. As reported, Gou seems highly critical of Samsung, even as his company engages in a series of deals with Japanese firm, Sharp, for component supply.
"I respect the Japanese and especially like their execution and communication styles," Gou said, "Unlike the Koreans, they will not hit you from behind."
The deal with Sharp will give Hon Hai/Foxconn a "three-year advantage" against Samsung he added in his statements, during which he also disclosed that an assembly line for TV sets is to be set-up using Sharp's tech. "Market sources suggested that the TV sets would be the upcoming Apple TV models," the report adds.
Apple had been expected to introduce its new Apple television this year, but this seems less likely now. Apple's iPhone 5 -- equipped with a faster processor, better graphics, a completely redesigned chassis, a new and smaller 19-pin Dock connector, some LTE support, and a 4-inch screen remains on target for a Fall showing, around the time iOS 6 is expected to ship.
iOS 6 will introduce many new software enhancements to consolidate the industry-defining user experience of the device. It also seems likely existing features within the increasingly powerful Apple smartphone will also be finessed.
Gou is so seemingly confident he urged consumers to "wait for the launch of the iPhone 5," because it will be so much better than the current poster child of the anti-Apple Android set, the Galaxy III.
Critics will observe that Apple's choice of next-generation materials for iPhone chassis design is an immediate step toward better build quality than the plastic body which encases the Samsung "rock star" phone. It will be interesting to compare product return rates between the two devices, as well as considering working life in Samsung's factories when compared to the improving lot of workers on the Apple supply line.
What price integrity?
It's possible Gou's condemnation of Samsuing is based on the Korean firms 2010 action when it broke ranks with four Taiwanese flat panel partners to tell regulators details of a price fixing deal between the five firms. This evidence led to the Taiwanese firms facing huge fines while Samsung escaped scot-free, as a "tainted witness".
Apple's opinion of Samsung is also historically low at this time. After all, Samsung seemed to ape the design of the iPhone and the iPad in its Galaxy range while also being Apple's chief iPhone component maker. And Samsung has also sued Apple (successfully in the US) over use of industry standard 3G FRAND patents, in clear denial of the open nature governing use of such technologies.
What does all this mean? It very likely means that among Apple and its partners, the iPhone 5 isn't just aiming to be the redefinition of what a smartphone can be, but will also be a flash point at which Apple allies who have already been burned by Samsung's behavior will be working together to slap back at that competing firm.
iPhone 5 is set to ship in Fall following announcement in September. In this release, Apple will be firing on all cylinders to defeat Samsung in the biggest and most democratic courtroom of them all: the consumer market.
Will this season be the season Apple's iOS finally eats Samsung's Galaxy? Or will the Galaxy prove to much to swallow? What do you think? Let me know in comments below...
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