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Samsung and Apple have traded places, and the Chinese are next in line

Samsung and Apple have traded places, and the Chinese are next in line Mashable We're using cookies to improve your experience. Click Here to find out more. Mashable Mashable Mashable Australia Mashable France Mashable India Mashable UK Sign in Like Follow Follow Mashable see more  > Search Videos Social Media Tech Business Entertainment World Lifestyle Watercooler Shop More Channels Videos Social Media Tech Business Entertainment World Lifestyle Watercooler Shop Company About Us Licensing & Reprints Archive Mashable Careers Contact Contact Us Submit News Advertise Advertise Legal Privacy Policy Terms of Use Cookie Policy Apps iPhone / iPad Android Resources Subscriptions Sites Mashable Shop Job Board Social Good Summit Tech Like Follow Follow Samsung and Apple have traded places, and the Chinese are next in line 1.8k Shares Share Tweet Share What's This? On the left, Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. On the right, the Apple iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.Image: Samsung/Apple/Mashable Composite By Stan Schroeder 2016-03-25 14:18:15 UTC Opinion How do you know if a company like Apple has lost its way? How do you decide whether an uninspiring event or a dip in sales is just a temporary blunder — a part of the eternal ebb and flow of the tech world — or an indication of a serious issue? Well, it helps when there’s a strong competitor to compare with. And now that the dust has settled on both the first big Apple and Samsung events of 2016, Samsung looks like a leader for the first time, with Apple grasping for all sorts of straws to keep up. Let’s face it: Despite being ahead in the total number of smartphones sold worldwide, Samsung was always a distant number two to Apple. Tedious discussions of Apple vs. everyone else aside, most folks following the smartphone industry agree that Apple’s phones were always a little better, a little more polished than the competition, despite often being behind in terms of pure specifications. But Apple’s dominance was asserted in something else besides the milliseconds it takes to open an app on an iPhone or the meticulous organization of its events: strategy. But Apple’s dominance was asserted in something else besides the milliseconds it takes to open an app on an iPhone or the meticulous organization of its events: strategy and innovation. Apple was always one, two or three steps ahead: At the very beginning of the smartphone era, it was the multi-touch screen. Then, it was the App Store. After that came Siri, and Touch ID came next. The rules of the game were simple: Apple would introduce a groundbreaking feature, and everyone followed suit — a year or two later. You always had the feeling that Apple’s wizards are cooking up the next really cool feature behind the scenes. Samsung, by contrast, was always a bit of a mess. While Apple focused its efforts on one or two models in each device range — iPhone, iPad, MacBook — Samsung always seemed unsure what to do, launching Mini, Neo and Active variants of its flagships.  Confusing lineups and boring events Fast forward to right now. Sure, Samsung still sells a ton of low- and mid-range devices. But when it comes to flagships, the company focuses on two Android phones — the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge.  At the same time, Apple’s iPhone range is getting increasingly convoluted. The company’s latest phone is a 4-incher, inexplicably called the iPhone SE, with the looks of the (now ancient) iPhone 5S and the innards of the iPhone 6, mixed with some of the features of the iPhone 6S. If that leaves you feeling lost, check out Apple’s iPad range: You got the 7.9-inch iPad mini 2, iPad mini 4, the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and the new iPad Pro that is the same size as the iPad Air 2 but is similar in specs to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The smaller iPad Pro has less memory (2GB vs 4GB) than its big brother, but oddly has a better 12-megapixel camera — and the 12.9-iPad is supposed to be the king of the iPad range.  I'm not saying Samsung (or any other company) has a better tablet lineup than Apple — it doesn't. But choosing the right iPad, MacBook, or even the iPhone is currently a chore, which indicates Apple is unsure of what its next step should be.   When did this become so complicated? Image: Apple Much has been said about Apple’s lackluster March event, and there’s no point reiterating the obvious. Suffice to say, there was zero innovation to be seen. But it’s not just the last event. Apple hasn’t been innovating much in the past couple of years. Quick, name the biggest differences between the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6. Even the pros would have to take a pause.  When Apple has introduced something new, its innovations have been aimed toward niches, not the general population.  Sure, the Apple Pencil is nice, but we’ve seen styluses before, and it’s mostly interesting to people who do a lot of drawing. 3D Touch is also neat, but it's hardly a game changer for anything besides, maybe, gaming. The ba