September 2, 2014

Samsung: Good, bad, and what I'd change [EDITORIAL]

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No matter whether you love or hate Samsung, you have to admit they’re one of the strongest brands in smartphone industry. When it comes to Android they have consistently been perceived as the strongest one, particularly when we look at the market share.

According to Localytics Samsung owns 63.3% of Android market, followed by HTC with 6.5% and LG with 5.9% share. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I used the phrase „undisputed king of Android (share)“. Said data is dating back to November 2013, but not much has changed in half a year.

NOTE THAT THIS ARTICLE IS SPREAD OVER TWO PAGES

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I personally don’t like Samsung’s take on Android… at all. I consider their TouchWiz skin to be extremely buggy, cartoonish and quite frankly crappy. There, I said it. All that considered, Samsung has one big thing going for them, an established brand. They quickly and steadily managed to put two words on the tongues of smartphone users around the world. The words? “Samsung Galaxy“.

As soon as people hear those words they know what you’re talking about – even if their knowledge of smartphone industry is almost non-existent. Heck, even the word “Galaxy“ on its own now makes people think about Samsung and their smartphone business.

Are there too many Samsung Galaxy devices out there_2A quick trip down memory lane reminds us that the “Galaxy“ brand came to life in 2009 when Samsung released their first Samsung Galaxy device running Android. Since then every Samsung’s phone running Google’s Android operating system was dubbed Galaxy. That first device, the Samsung Galaxy i7500, was released in April and came with Android 1.5 Cupcake out of the box. I had the pleasure of handling that very same device. At the time I was rather impressed by it; it was a nice piece of technology.

I don’t think Samsung realized that what they created back then would go on to be as big as it is today. Jump to today and we see that Samsung has released over 200 models carrying the “Galaxy” name. That’s a lot of stars.

We can separate Samsung’s Galaxy devices in a few categories:

  • Smartphones (Ace, S, etc.)
  • Phablets (Note and Mega lines)
  • Tablets (Tab and Note lines)
  • Other (Camera line, Gear line)

I did allow myself some freedom categorizing devices considering there are so many. What’s more, some really don’t belong anywhere, like the Galaxy Camera.

Samsung’s flagship “S” line is the iconic flagship line, having moved more than 210 million units since 2010. In the 1st quarter of 2014 alone Samsung shipped 85 million smartphones, with at least 80% of those being Galaxy devices. In comparison, Apple shipped 43.7 million smartphones, while Lenovo, Huawei and LG all shipped between 12 and 14 million units each. I believe these numbers speak for themselves.

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Taking all of this into consideration it is obvious that Samsung is the king of Android and nobody seems poised to wrestle away the crown any time soon. But, as you know quantity does not equate to quality. And, even though the Galaxy S5 is already selling like crazy, it doesn’t mean they’re doing things 100% right.

I am sure that I am not the only one to think that Samsung has stopped pushing us forward. They’ve slowed down on innovation and most of what they do are gimmicks to appeal to people who are amused by them. Unfortunately, that is a vast majority of market today.

Some of you may disagree with me, that is just fine. Maybe you find Samsung’s gimmicks useful. I am not saying that some of their features are not useful but a lot of what I see is stuff that typical consumers don’t use on a daily basis. For all of the marketing done and the hype around the announcements, it feels like stuff that’s only there because Samsung could do it – not because users ask for it or need it.

It may seem like I’m hating on Samsung, but I’m not. I’m just disappointed in how things seem to evolve. There’s less “revolution” in today’s models and the last few cycles are more “evolution”. Maybe I demand a bit too much but it has been a while since I saw something that made me say, “WOW!”

Personally, and if nothing else, I would appreciate if they’d at least pay more attention to finer details and stop pushing buggy versions of TouchWiz.

Let me elaborate on the Good, Bad and the Bottom Line on the next page.