Former Apple and Samsung employee dishes dirt on rivals’ innovation


Samsung's method of innovation is way different than Apple's.
Samsung's method of innovation is way different than Apple's.
Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr

Apple and Samsung are bitter rivals in the tech industry that make a lot of the same type of products, but when it comes to innovation, the two are complete opposites.

Arno Lenior is one of the few people on the planet who’s worked at both companies, and while Samsung gets a bad rap for copying Apple’s products, the former Apple marketing director reveals that in many ways, Samsung takes innovation just as seriously as they do in Cupertino, otherwise it would have never been able to go from a company that sold rice nearly 100 years ago, to transforming into one of the world’s top TV and smartphone manufacturers.

Now that Lenior left Samsung back in May, MarketingMag sat down with the Australian marketer to get his viewpoints on innovation and how it’s become part of the mindset at Apple.

“At Apple, innovation clearly is part of the company’s DNA,” Lenior told Marketing Mag. “Innovation internally was more than a buzzword. ‘Innovation’ was a part of everyone’s KPIs. Interestingly enough, the definition was left very open in terms of what the interpretation of innovation actually was. It was an individual thing, and also a mindset. It was therefore up to you to define what innovation actually is to you and how it applies to what you do everyday.”

Lenior was at Apple when Steve Jobs was trying to steer the company back on course with the release of the iMac and iPod. Many companies use focus groups to try to discover new areas to innovate, but Lenior says he learned early on that consumers don’t know the answer to questions a company is asking.

While Apple focuses on innovation at an individual level, Lenior reveals that Samsung’s entire organizational structure is focused on innovating through massive spending on R&D.

“Samsung has built five R&D centers around the world. I think there is about fifty thousand people in R&D. And they spent about US$11 billion in R&D during the last calendar year,” says Lenior. “Samsung is the largest consumer electronics company in the world, but they are a company, which essentially is about connecting people….This has been done through a constant focus on innovation and investing in new technologies.”

For more dirt on the differences between working at Apple and Samsung, head over to MarketingMag for Lenior’s full interview.