When Samsung finally became a major player in the smartphone arena, it was with the original Galaxy S phone. The Galaxy S blatantly copied the iPhone’s shape and launcher design. By doing that, they launched themselves onto the forefront of the Android phone market.
The Galaxy S, while somewhat copying the design of the iPhone, brought a larger 4″ screen, removable battery, and expandable memory to the table. This made Samsung the first real competitor to Apple in the smartphone arena.
This continued on as Samsung brought software enhancements to the table with each successive device launch. In late 2011, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note and forever changed the face of the smartphone market. The Dell streak was technically the first phablet, but it wasn’t until the Note, that the large screen phablet market blew wide open.
Samsung moved away from the iPhone styling and began to make their phones distinct. Their phones became faster and their screens grew larger. Their advertising focused on the things that the Galaxy phones could do that the iPhone could not. More importantly, their profits soared sky high.
Fast forward to present day. The Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 sales are not quite up to par. 5 straight months of declining sales have wiped out $40 billion in Samsung’s market value. Their smartphone shipments have been reduced by more than 3 percentage points. They also lose their top spot in China, which is the world’s largest cell phone market.
Samsung’s reaction to all this is to cut 10% of their employees at their headquarters in Seoul. They will focus primarily on workers in their human resources, public relations, and finance departments. As of June 30, 2015, Samsung had nearly 100,000 employees at their headquarters. Do the math. Almost 10,000 people will lose their jobs.
So what changed? What happened that Samsung would fall so far and so fast that they would need to make such drastic changes? I would propose that Samsung has a selling problem, not so much a spending problem, and why aren’t they selling? I would guess that it has something to do with alienating their core fan base. I was a pretty strong Samsung fan and advocate, but two things happened.
The first was that my Samsung Galaxy Note II on T-Mobile was stuck on Android 4.2 Jellybean at the same time that other phones were already getting Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Note II, as all the Note phones have been, was very expensive, yet Samsung a year later comes out with the Note 3 and forgets about everyone who purchased the Note II. After all why release Lollipop or even KitKat when the consumer could just spend more on the newest model?
The second was that Samsung removed 2 huge features that Samsung’s fan base had grown to love. Those 2 features were the removable battery and the expandable memory. I understand why they did it. They had positioned themselves as the premium Android phone, but their devices lacked the finesse and build quality of the iPhone and even other Android phones. So in trying to compete with build quality, they alienated a large part of their fanbase, including myself.
In my opinion, Samsung needs to return to their roots. There is no reason why they can’t offer another version of the Note 5 or S6 with an expandable memory slot and a removable battery. This way they can cater to the iPhone crowd while not alienating their original fan base.
This was originally supposed to be a news piece and it morphed into an editorial hybrid of sorts. You may have a different opinion. Let us know what you think in the comments below.