Tech Genius, Have A Few Hundred Million - Could I Start Up An Apple/Samsung Analogue?

How could I do it?

Additionally, what do you guys look for in a phone? What do you want from it? Would you be attracted by a Samsung Galaxy S4 analogue which costs much less than the original, but performed exactly the same (or even better)?

Sure. Just come up with a killer app that only runs on your hardware and makes it worth it for people to carry around 2 devices. I can think of one right now. A lossless compression algorithm that is far superior to anything out there right now. Hell, if you could write something like that, you wouldn’t even need the start up capital. Just license the code. Of course people would rip you off but that’s what armies of patent lawyers are for.

Good luck with that – it might be possible in certain domains, where we can use external knowledge as a replacement for bits in information storage, but we’re very near the theoretical limits for general compression, and of course for some kinds of data no compression is possible at all.

I’m not sure a “few hundred million” would be enough money to develop a new phone. It might help to license the Android OS, and to outsource manufacturing to someone like Foxconn. And I’m not sure how much market share you can get. Neither Microsoft nor Blackberry is doing very well so far, and they have tremendous resources and established brands.

you couldn’t. At least, not by yourself, no matter how much of a “tech genius” you are. You aren’t going to simultaneously design your own SoC, fabricate it in quantities of millions, handle the mechanical, thermal, and RF design of the handset, all the while writing the OS to run on it.

now, if you’re just talking about starting a company and hiring a bunch of people to do that, well that’s more do-able but still fraught with peril. You’d be wading into a pool filled with sharks, and if you wanted to get something to market quickly you’re pretty much locked into using Android or Windows Phone, and there’s already stiff competition there. Nokia-philes are still bitching about the transition to Windows Phone, even though the savior Meego was nowhere near done and had absolutely no incentive for people to want to use it.

I want it to be a phone, I want it to send messages and emails, and I want it to run apps. Every smartphone platform still in existence does what I need it to.

no, because if it claimed to do “exactly the same” as a Galaxy S4 but cost “much less,” I’d really be suspicious about what corners were cut and IMO I’d consider it a piece of shit knockoff. It’d probably have a shitty display, or horrible battery life, or be slapped together out of junk. ETA: or all three.

It you have enough business acumen to hire a marketing genius you’ll have no problem. Your phone doesn’t have to be any better than the rest, you just need people to want it.

Do you think that includes doing certain transformations on the data before applying the algorithm? That’s something I’ve played with from time to time.

Certainly you COULD do it, if you could write a good business plan and if you had an idea that could truly penetrate the market. It’s going to be tough though, since Apple and Android pretty much have the market sowed up. Look at how hard Microsoft is having in penetrating the market, and they are, well, Microsoft…with billions to spend on R&D, marketing and such.

But…if you DID have an idea for a revolutionary new phone that could clearly beat out the big two? Sure, it’s been done before. The current industry leaders knocked off RIM after all. Contrary to popular opinion, the seemingly invincible tech companies of today can be knocked off, and eventually will fall to someone else. Just ask Microsoft…or Apple itself, since it was knocked off, came back and may be knocked off yet again. Or talk to Novell about server OS and market dominance. :stuck_out_tongue:

Honestly, functionality. What I’d REALLY like is a phone that allows me to integrate what I need in hands free operations. I’d love a projected display and large virtual keyboard, along with Siri like functionality that is easier to use and more intuitive. Possibly integrated Bluetooth heads up display (a la Google Glass) and integrated stereo sound with a virtual overlay of reality with helpful popups (again, something like Google Glass, but…well, more). Basically, a phone that allows me to integrate my digital online needs with the functions I need for search, gaming, texting, voice/video conferencing and, well, perhaps occasionally making a call. :wink: A phone that can do it all…allow me to work and play at full speed.

Be a bit much to do all that, even for a tech genius and even for a few hundred million, which sounds like a lot but is basically a drop in the bucket. However, if you could do all of this AND write a good business plan, you could use that few hundred million as seed money to bring in other venture capitalists, angels, banks and such…all that nasty capitalist pig dog stuff that folks here hate so much.

Give me one example of a high tech, mass market consumer product manufactured in the past 10 years that when originally introduced “cost much less than the original, but performed exactly the same (or even better).”

Just one.

there probably aren’t any but there are probably evolutionary improvements that SEEM like new products and split the difference. This example will probably get shot down but I’m staring right now at my first generation Roku player that I think cost around a hundred bucks, was brain-dead simple to setup and use and just plain fucking worked. Any problems where with my ahem “network” rather than the player.

Taking one post for the hijack, then we can open this somewhere else if we want to continue:

Here’s the simple proof that some things are incompressible. Consider a 2x2 “image”, where each pixel has 8 possible values. Now assume that you want to represent any possible such image. How many are there? There are 8 values for the upper left pixel, times 2 for the upper right…or 8x8x8x8 = 4096 possible images. So any lossless compression scheme we come up with needs to be able to represent at least 4096 possible values.

How many bits does that take? Well, 1 bit can represent 2 different values, 2 bits can represent 4 different values, 3 represents 8…and 12 bits can represent 4096 different values. So 12 bits is the minimum size your “compressed” information can be – anything less, and there will be at least some “input” images that can’t be mapped to a unique “compressed” set of bits; that is, with less than 12 bits, your compression won’t be lossless. No amount of re-arranging ahead of time will help you – you still need at least 4096 values to represent the 4096 unique input images, and you can’t do that in less than 12 bits.

How many bits did the original image take? No problem: it’s four “pixels” with eight possible values each. Above we see that 3 bits can represent 8 values, so each pixel is 3 bits, and the total image is…12 bits.

In general, for any stream of information where every bit is important and independent from all the other bits, universal lossless compression is impossible. What makes compression possible for most datasets is the “independent from all the other bits” part, and yes, that can sometimes be affected by rearranging (for example, many real-world images compress better when you compress their pixels in horizontal rows rather than vertical ones).

Even for things like images where the color of one pixel is likely to be close to the color of the pixel next to it, you (or your information scientist counterpart) can quantify the amount of redundancy in the dataset, usually expressed as some sort of ratio. For example, images in a certain set may have a 6:1 redundancy, indicating that, on average across that set, you can use one bit to represent 6 bits of the image. That indicates the theoretical maximum lossless compression of that set (i.e. you can losslessly compress the average image (or the whole set) in the set to 1/6 it’s size) by the same logic as above. Even in this case, though, there must always be images (perhaps ones not in the computed set) that would not compress at all, or even get bigger using the algorithm. Ultimately, information is information, and bits themselves are incompressible and indivisible. You simply can’t put X bits of information into a container smaller than X, and still get 2^X possible values back out.

something you might want to look at.

edit: I know the connection isn’t obvious, but I don’t want to hijack the thread any further and I’m not really prepared to discuss this another thread since it’s been so long since I’ve worked it.

The one innovation that would put Apple and Samsung out on the street is a major leap forward in battery technology. An S4 clone with a slim battery that lasted all week? There would be a stampede, the landfills wouldn’t cope with the mountains of discarded iphones. So as a hypothetical, yes you could establish a crushingly successful device company if you owned this technology.

If you did in fact make this innovative step in energy storage then making mobile phones may not be the first order of business. That, and the fact the Nobel prize is in the post, might dissuade you from taking on Samsung and Apple in the mobile device market. Bigger fish to fry.

More realistically, you could maybe establish a competitor company with an incremental step in battery technology. (Maybe 10% better would be enough? Not sure - even that figure could be wild fantasy). This could also conceivably occur through the work of one genius. Making a scientific breakthrough in energy storage is a very multidisciplinary problem - classic physics / chemistry / materials / engineering effort. Unlikely for one person to drive all that. But a more incremental advance? Maybe one guy could have a great idea in any one of those fields and that would be enough to move things forward.

I’ll just that this thread is proving my point, that tech geniusing isn’t the key factor in making mega-millions. Technology does not drive the consumer technology industry, marketing does.

+10^10 and what’s so strange is that I think most people, if they think about it, probably don’t vehemently disagree with this. A good chunk are probably like ‘fuck yeah.’ But it doesn’t seem to matter.

Personally I think the marketers know that making fact based buying decisions is hard work and that given all of the other priorities in life, all they have to do is give us a half-ass excuse to not do the hard work and we won’t.

It’s not just marketing. I think a lot of Apple’s recent success is that their products are well-designed and easy to use. And they’ve taken great advantage of the network effect.

I wasn’t taking a swipe at Apple. But my perception is that they do take marketing to a completely different level - meaning that it’s not all flash and no substance. I think for them, or Jobs at least, it was something more organic - from the interface to the shape of the case to the Apple ‘ecosystem.’

You may not like the walled garden approach, I won’t even consider it personally, but it’s hard to argue with the seamless, integrated result that is synonymous with brand - at least that’s my perception. People who are less of a diletante than moi and actually watch the industry will hopefully set me straight.

I’ll point out that shipbuilding, steel and aluminum magnate Henry J. Kaiser thought his enormous wealth and experience would let him buy his way into the automaking game. He was wrong.

You’ve got some misconceptions. Forget about manufacturing. Just worry about design. Once you have the design, and the phone is reasonably manufacturable according to well known principles, you hire contract manufacturers to do it for you.
Which is why it is going to be tough to make it cheaper, since Apple and Samsung are pretty good at being cheap.
Know anything about patents? You had better. Google bought Motorola just for the patents. Apple and Samsung are not going to license patents to you, and good luck designing a phone without violating any.
How are you going to market your phone? You had better be really cheap, since a lot of phone prices are subsidized by the phone companies, so unless you have a plan to get them to sell your phone for you, it had better be pretty cheap indeed.

Would a few hundred million bucks do it? Maybe. You’ll need to hire a bunch of people to do the design of the phone, the design of the card, and the design of the ICs. They’ll all be working for a few years before you see a penny. You’ll need to rent a building or two, buy lots of computers for EDA and CAD, buy design tools. Oh, did I mention patents? Lots of lawyers.
Plus you’ll need lots of software people to do custom stuff on top of Android.
I’m sure I’m missing lots of stuff. I’m in microprocessor design groups, and there are 100s of people working on that alone. You’d have it better because you’d problem put together a system on a chip with an ARM core, lots of memory, and some other stuff.

What do I want? A phone that knows where I am and what I’m doing, and reminds me of appointments and stuff. Good luck beating Google to this.
And did I mention patents?