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Collaboration and Cooperation over Conflict, Apple, TSM, Samsung

Arthur Hanson

Well-known member
TSM and Apple have become the dominant players because of Steve Jobs writing a huge check for TSM to build a giga fab when Samsung stole much of the design and feel of the Apple Ecosystem. TSM as Morris Chang the founder said many times "TSM does not compete with their customers" making them the only pure play fab that can deliver cutting edge chips. Both Apple and TSM have become dominant in their industries thanks to this partnership that spans the East and the West. Cooperation and collaboration beats war and conflict every time and this is the supreme example of this. Can you even imagine the progress the world could make if it even spent one tenth of their military budgets on collaboration of the type of this example sets. I wish the Xi, Biden and Putin would learn from this example that benefits all. Violence and destruction is the last refuge of the incompetent. I hope from the tech sector by providing many examples of this for the world's politicians to learn from they get the message someday.
Any thoughts, comments or additions sought and welcome.
 

benb

Active member
Apple and TSMC as engineers of electronics (different parts of the value chain) are differentiated and successful. I do think engineering all parts of that value chain, as Samsung does, will win in the end though. Vertical integration cuts costs the most, offers the most innovation potential (Samsung is much more innovative that Apple in the last 10 years), and is the more difficult journey (witness all of Samsung's issues over the last 10 years), which builds a moat.

Lots of Apple users switching to Zflips and Zfolds.
 

blueone

Active member
Apple and TSMC as engineers of electronics (different parts of the value chain) are differentiated and successful. I do think engineering all parts of that value chain, as Samsung does, will win in the end though. Vertical integration cuts costs the most, offers the most innovation potential (Samsung is much more innovative that Apple in the last 10 years), and is the more difficult journey (witness all of Samsung's issues over the last 10 years), which builds a moat.

Lots of Apple users switching to Zflips and Zfolds.
For a company that you claim is more innovative than Apple, other than folding phones (which seems to be a small market so far; I've never even seen one in use), which products are you thinking of? I measure everything by commercial success, and Apple sells 40% of the world's smartphones but makes 75% of the profits. It looks to me like Apple is overall out-innovating Samsung in phones. Samsung does well in standardized products with little differentiation, like memory and SSDs, but I'm hard-pressed to think of anything else. Their PCs are nothing special (Macs are leadership products), Samsung's curved monitors and TVs are not dominating the industry by any means, their appliance business is just a little beyond break-even according to their data, I don't see Samsung smart watches in use much... what am I missing? (To put the Apple Watch into perspective, it generates about two-thirds as much revenue as the entire Swiss watch industry, and is growing much faster.)

Of course, I'm only familiar with Samsung Electronics and their consumer products. Samsung is also one of the world's largest ship builders, they're a huge player in healthcare in Korea, commercial construction, telecommunications, and insurance. I don't know how innovative they are in these other industries.
 

benb

Active member
Apple is one of the most innovative companies. But, it's not the same as it once was.


Patents are the best (but imperfect) means of measuring innovation. It's the tip of a big iceberg; for every patent there are probably 10-100 trade secrets.

Samsung was the worldwide patent leader in 2021, with 13,024, according to the article.

It takes 7 years or longer for a patent to issue (I estimate, based on experience, and man is the US patent system backed up!) so 2021 production was brisk due to 2014-2020 efforts. New inventions may already be in products (which often happens in electronics) while other types of patents may take years to integrate once they issue. So innovation can be looking a half-decade back (stale news); and yet may not appear in products for 5-10 years. So it's a very weird thing to measure, looking far back and far forward at the same time.

Apple had 2,541 patents in 2021. I think its worth noting that that is down 9% from 2020; this is long enough since 2011 to be fully the new, Tim Cook Apple.

Not heading in the right direction Tim!
 
Last edited:

blueone

Active member
Apple is one of the most innovative companies. But, it's not the same as it once was.


Patents are the best (but imperfect) means of measuring innovation. It's the tip of a big iceberg; for every patent there are probably 10-100 trade secrets.

Samsung was the worldwide patent leader in 2021, with 13,024, according to the article.

It takes 7 years or longer for a patent to issue (I estimate, based on experience, and man is the US patent system backed up!) so 2021 production was brisk due to 2014-2020 efforts. New inventions may already be in products (which often happens in electronics) while other types of patents may take years to integrate once they issue. So innovation can be looking a half-decade back (stale news); and yet may not appear in products for 5-10 years. So it's a very weird thing to measure, looking far back and far forward at the same time.

Apple had 2,541 patents in 2021. I think its worth noting that that is down 9% from 2020; this is long enough since 2011 to be fully the new, Tim Cook Apple.

Not heading in the right direction Tim!
Ha! I knew you'd bring up patent counts. I wish the stock markets were so predictable.

I think patent counts have become a poor indicator of innovation. I've sat on patent committees in three major companies, and the large majority of the invention disclosures I read were mostly tweaky little things, or various circuitry stuff that would be nearly impossible to detect infringement in competing products. Usually once or twice in a committee meeting I'd see something that made me whisper "Oh wow...". I usually sent a note the primary inventors' managers about it. Of course, I worked in product design and engineering, so it might be a lot different in fab process or anything in the material world.

Second, as you know, all patents are not created equal by any means, and some companies (especially start-ups) divide up invention disclosure claims into multiple separate filings to bump up their patent counts. Some companies prefer to file one patent application which might includes tens of claims.

So call me cynical, because I probably am, but for the most part I've come to disregard the majority of patents over the years, and just look at business success and the real innovation in a company's products. Patents are great for engineers though. Most companies reward you handsomely for filing invention disclosures and getting patents issued.
 
Last edited:

GYHTBT

New member
TSM and Apple have become the dominant players because of Steve Jobs writing a huge check for TSM to build a giga fab when Samsung stole much of the design and feel of the Apple Ecosystem. TSM as Morris Chang the founder said many times "TSM does not compete with their customers" making them the only pure play fab that can deliver cutting edge chips. Both Apple and TSM have become dominant in their industries thanks to this partnership that spans the East and the West. Cooperation and collaboration beats war and conflict every time and this is the supreme example of this. Can you even imagine the progress the world could make if it even spent one tenth of their military budgets on collaboration of the type of this example sets. I wish the Xi, Biden and Putin would learn from this example that benefits all. Violence and destruction is the last refuge of the incompetent. I hope from the tech sector by providing many examples of this for the world's politicians to learn from they get the message someday.
Any thoughts, comments or additions sought and welcome.
Steve et al wrote no such check. TSM leaned in as TSM has done in dozens of other similar collaborative situations.
 

hist78

Well-known member
Apple is one of the most innovative companies. But, it's not the same as it once was.


Patents are the best (but imperfect) means of measuring innovation. It's the tip of a big iceberg; for every patent there are probably 10-100 trade secrets.

Samsung was the worldwide patent leader in 2021, with 13,024, according to the article.

It takes 7 years or longer for a patent to issue (I estimate, based on experience, and man is the US patent system backed up!) so 2021 production was brisk due to 2014-2020 efforts. New inventions may already be in products (which often happens in electronics) while other types of patents may take years to integrate once they issue. So innovation can be looking a half-decade back (stale news); and yet may not appear in products for 5-10 years. So it's a very weird thing to measure, looking far back and far forward at the same time.

Apple had 2,541 patents in 2021. I think its worth noting that that is down 9% from 2020; this is long enough since 2011 to be fully the new, Tim Cook Apple.

Not heading in the right direction Tim!

Samsung did file a lot of patent applications in 2021. The number of patent Samsung Electronics actually received (applied throughout previous years) is 6,366 in 2021.


It's hard to tell the real impact from those patents granted. For example IBM has been the top US patent assignee for several years, including 2021. But IBM is struggling in its products and services for a number of years too.
 

hist78

Well-known member
Ha! I knew you'd bring up patent counts. I wish the stock markets were so predictable.

I think patent counts have become a poor indicator of innovation. I've sat on patent committees in three major companies, and the large majority of the invention disclosures I read were mostly tweaky little things, or various circuitry stuff that would be nearly impossible to detect infringement in competing products. Usually once or twice in a committee meeting I'd see something that made me whisper "Oh wow...". I usually sent a note the primary inventors' managers about it. Of course, I worked in product design and engineering, so it might be a lot different in fab process or anything in the material world.

Second, as you know, all patents are not created equal by any means, and some companies (especially start-ups) divide up invention disclosure claims into multiple separate filings to bump up their patent counts. Some companies prefer to file one patent application which might includes tens of claims.

So call me cynical, because I probably am, but for the most part I've come to disregard the majority of patents over the years, and just look at business success and the real innovation in a company's products. Patents are great for engineers though. Most companies reward you handsomely for filing invention disclosures and getting patents issued.

For some corporations, the huge number of patents didn't lift their business to a desired level.

For example, Alcatel-Lucent, the owner of the famous Bell Laboratories and now acquired by Nokia, had to use their patent holdings to secure a $2.1 billion loan in order to improve its cash flow.

 
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