Years of legal wrangling between Apple and Samsung could finally be coming to a close. Last week, a federal appeals court denied Samsung’s request to hold off the $548 million payment it owes Apple for infringing its iPhone patents, signaling that Apple might emerge victorious from the long-simmering dispute.
But the larger rivalry between the two behemoths, which produce more than one-third of consumer electronics in the U.S, still has no clear winner. When one brand’s market share rises, the other falls; while Samsung sells the most smartphones in the world, Apple’s iPhone generates more than 10 times the profit of its competitor’s devices.
According to L2 research, Samsung has the upper hand in digital. The brand won the top spot in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Consumer Electronics for investing comprehensively in mobile, site, digital marketing, and social media. Samsung has one of the most sophisticated advertising operations observed in the study, accounting for 32% of the mobile impressions registered by Index brands. Apple owns less than .01% — a reflection of the more curated approach that earned the brand its fourth-place spot.
That strategy is also reflected in the brand’s approach to social media. Samsung has established some of the largest social communities, with more than five million followers on Twitter and over one million on Instagram. Meanwhile, Apple limits its brand presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and disables comments on its YouTube channel in order to control the brand conversation.
However, the study finds that Apple still holds the advantage in the retail arena, where the brand’s brick-and-mortar footprint and strong distribution channels make it one of the strongest players in omnichannel. With more personal information on users than e-tail giant Amazon, Apple can easily facilitate in-store pickup by auto-filling account information during ordering. Samsung lacks the infrastructure to do so, instead using its Best Buy store-within-a-store as a surrogate.
Moreover, iPhone users appear to be more loyal than Samsung device owners, a crucial factor as the two brands vie for the nascent Internet of Things market. While 83% of iPhone owners plan to stick with Apple, Samsung smartphones enjoy a loyalty rate of only 64% — suggesting that as consumers invest in interconnected devices, Apple could emerge as the winner despite its conservative digital strategy.
To see how the other 56 Consumer Electronics brands compare to Apple and Samsung in digital performance, use our interactive spider charts.