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'Is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S an Apple iPad Killer?' Is This Week's Most-Asked Meaningless Question


WWDC 2014 reminded us that Apple is not merely a device company.


Betteridge's law of headlines states that "any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."

Betteridge's law applies to this article, so you may want to stop reading now.

Asking if the new Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy Tab S is an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad killer is proposterous, at least for investors.

What is the most important thing we learned at the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference held in early June?

I'm not talking about features and apps and programing languages.

I'm asking you, what did we really learn about Apple, about the nature of the company?

It's All About the Nervous System

Apple is not selling iPads, iPhones, Macs, apps, media, and software.

It is selling how these things work together.

The modern Apple has clearly been moving in this direction for over a decade, starting in the good old days with the basics, like syncing music libraries between a computer and an iPod.

But OS X and iOS integration is finally becoming a reality.

Even if the two operating systems can't ever fully merge, with the upcoming releases of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, they will work as one.

For example, Handoff allows instant switching between an iOS task and an OS X task when devices are close to each other.  So you can start writing an email or a document on an iPad in your bedroom and finish it on the Mac in your living room. Or you can send text messages on your Mac if you don't feel like getting up to find your iPhone.

And with the new operating systems, Airdrop will allow users to share content between OS X and iOS devices. Currently, they can't connect for AirDrop.

OS X is also getting a very iOS-like notification center.

These are all very little things that don't mean much on their own, but together, they reduce Apple's reliance upon any specific model.

Samsung is selling screen resolution and megahertz and gigabytes.

Apple is selling easy cooperation between devices, which gives its customers a huge incentive to never leave the kingdom.

So what is Samsung trying to kill? The iPad?

The headlines would indicate the answer is yes:

But who cares?

Apple's real value is its ability to integrate multiple hardware and software products with a minimum of fuss.

It doesn't hurt that the products themselves are great, but their strengthening bond is what's going to matter going forward.

Samsung, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and (NASDAQ:AMZN) are also on board with the integration theme, and each brings its own mix of hardware, software, and services to the fight.

It Just Works. Seamlessly?

The real challenge for Apple isn't the tablet of the month, but rather to keep the "It Just Works" reputation alive as more and more devices and services become connected -- especially as the so-called "Internet of Things" comes to life.

MobileMe was a disaster, and the reception to iCloud has been basically okay. That's where Apple needs to do better.

And What If the iPad Was Already Killed?

Let's remember that iPad shipments fell 16% last quarter, and iPad is losing market share to the never-ending wave of bargain-basement Android models.

The iPad already peaked, at least for the near-term. So it's a good thing that Apple is a nervous system, not a bunch of parts.

Twitter: @MichaelComeau

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