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The Galaxy S8 must be driving competitors insane

by Todd Haselton | February 3, 2017February 3, 2017 8:30 am PDT

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 must be driving competitors insane. Word on the street is Samsung managed to gobble up all of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chips for the smartphone, which means other smartphone makers, many of which don’t develop their own chips, have to use Qualcomm’s older Snapdragon 821 chip instead.

Think about what this means for a moment.

LG and HTC, for example, are being forced to use older processors instead of the latest and greatest chip available. Meanwhile, Samsung has its own Exynos processors, too, so it gets to outfit its phones with two of the best options for Android smartphones on the market. Worse, and this is good news for Samsung from a competitive standpoint, Samsung is basically forcing LG and HTC to develop not just one new flagship smartphone but two.

Those are just two of the phone makers affected by Samsung’s chip order; it likely applies to Motorola, BlackBerry and many other phone makers. BlackBerry, to its credit, is able to skirt it with plans to launch a relatively mid-range device during MWC next month. And Motorola, which will also take the stage in Barcelona, will likely introduce its mid-range Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, two phones that don’t need the Snapdragon 835 in the price point they’re targeting. LG and HTC, though, are chasing the same high-end market as the Galaxy S8, just with inferior processors.

Rumors have suggested that HTC, at the very least, will release another new smartphone later this year that uses the Snapdragon 835 chip. That means it has to spend money designing and building two flagship smartphones, including the soon-to-launch HTC U Ultra (pictured above), not cheap by any means to develop. That’s just to keep up with a single device launched by Samsung. My guess is LG will do the same, though likely with a launch later in the year if it decides to deploy a successor to the LG V20.

In-house processors are a nice safety net

This shows why it’s beneficial for these companies to develop in-house processors, when possible. Huawei with its Kirin processor, for example, doesn’t really need to rely on Qualcomm for its new processors. And if the situation was turned on its head, leaving Samsung out in the cold, it could at least rely on building new Exynos chips. Apple, just for clarification, also uses its own processors. Sure, HTC can turn to MediaTek, but those are lower-end chips. And HTC is a far smaller company so one can understand why it doesn’t build its own processors.

Samsung is showing how aggressive it can be, and it’s not through out developing superior products but also hogging the components other manufacturers no doubt want access to. It’ll force LG and HTC to rethink their strategies, I imagine.

I haven’t seen anything like this in the past, but my guess is that Samsung will do what it can to make sure its Snapdragon monopoly continues.

 


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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