Is Samsung far ahead of Apple? Marc Benioff appears to think so

Technically Incorrect: The Salesforce CEO retweets something highly critical of Apple's innovation and highly complimentary to Samsung.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Is he a little bored with his iPhone?

Tech.Science.Society/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I rather thought that tech CEOs all go around being nice to each other in public and only offering criticisms of other CEOs' companies through Masonic-like winks, nods and code words.

I was moved, therefore, on Saturday night when I saw splendidly forthright Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff retweet this: "Crazy seeing Apple trying to catch Samsung. Battery life, waterproofing, blue color, front led light, &curved screens. Samsung set the standard."

The original tweet was emitted by basketball coach Dennis Marshall.

But did Benioff's apparent endorsement mean that a man who said there'd be no Salesforce without Steve Jobs was suggesting that Apple has a lot of catching up to do?

You will mutter that this was a mere retweet. But if we judge Donald Trump by his retweeting skills -- and we do -- then this felt like an observation that Apple's phones seem a touch retrograde.

A Salesforce spokesman confirmed that Benioff himself performed the retweet -- it was from an iPhone -- but couldn't say whether it reflected the CEO's precise views.

As rumors have suggested that the next iPhone might look disappointingly like the last one, some have kvetched -- again -- that Apple is becoming a vast global enterprise, rather than an enterprising, innovative company that happens to be global.

Tim Cook has completed five years as CEO, and some question whether his promises of breakthrough products are being delivered.

When it comes to phones, it's easy to think that the look has felt rather constant for quite a long time. Even when they got bigger (three years too late, according to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak), they looked like bigger iPhones.

This can feel reassuring to many. It can feel dull to some, too. Especially when they look at Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge and Note 7.

My colleague Jessica Dolcourt, for example, described the latter as "the sexiest large-screen phone ever" in her review.

Somehow, the word "sexy" hasn't been used about Apple for a little while.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Of course, the role of phones has changed. The ecosystem -- and one's satisfaction with it or not -- has an enormous influence on whether one stays with either Android or iOS.

Apple's consistency in updating operating systems has been markedly superior to Android's.

In any case, phones may soon merely become things we talk at, as the Siris and Cortanas of this world become our faithful and ever-understanding servants.

Moreover, Apple's success has never been about features. Android phones made this mistake time and time again. They seemed a delight for engineery types, but real people just wanted simple and beautiful.

Apple was pre-eminent at delivering that.

Now, though, could it be that the very elements retweeted by Benioff are those that many Apple users wish they had?

Last week, a survey performed by customer acquisition firm Fluent found that more than half of iPhone owners most wanted waterproofing to appear on the next iPhone.

Perhaps they see Lil' Wayne pouring champagne on his Galaxy S7 and experience a deep bout of envy.

In the same survey, however, only 35 percent of iPhone owners said they craved a curved screen.

At heart, Apple and Samsung are far ahead in mobile. Ultimately, then, consumers have to decide what feels good to them and what they believe is innovative.

Scanning Benioff's retweets even more closely -- well, you never know what you might find -- I discovered another featuring Forbes' Top 25 Most Innovative Companies of 2016.

Tesla came first. Salesforce was second (oh, that's why he retweeted it). Neither Apple nor Samsung appeared at all.

LG was 19th. (The Household and Healthcare part of LG, that is.)