in Tech

Thoughts On The Galaxy S4

So Samsung announced the Galaxy S4 amid a huge Broadway style show and dance event in New York. The CEO of the company opened the keynote by announcing the new device, spent 10 minutes giving a quick run down of hardware specs before making way for a song and dance presentation headed by what can be only described as a poor version of Neil Patrick Harris.

Make no qualms about it, it was very weird.

It seemed like Samsung had this vast amount of marketing cash pile and don’t really know how to spend it. Someone, somewhere in Samsung decided that a theatrical performance was the best way to introduce the Galaxy S4’s features to a room full of tech journalists.

There were a few hardware upgrades like a larger screen, thinner profile and better processors, but the consensus across the board was that the S4 looked exactly like the S3. Oh no! How are people going to know that I’ve upgrade to the Galaxy S4 if it looks exactly like the previous model? Android fanboys used to laugh at Apple fanboys when Apple released the iPhone 3GS and 4S. They claimed its just a money gouging move by Apple to make customers upgrade without having to change the iPhone’s design. It’s a sign that Apple was being lazy and with these tick tock incremental updates, Apple was losing its innovative edge.

I wonder what those same Android or even to an extent Samsung fanboys would say now that Samsung is copying Apple by copying itself. When I raised the issue of no major design changes to the Galaxy S4, I got a barrage of tweets like the one below defending Samsung.

A little bit of hypocrisy from Samsung fanboys maybe?

On top of their bizarre presentation, there was no mention of Android, no mention of Google but Samsung demonstrated a whole slew of Galaxy exclusive software features like S Translate, Airview without an S Pen, Air Gestures, Smart Pause and S Health. To me, these are all just gimmicky features to suck buyers into purchasing the device. Samsung is definitely going to go all gangbusters with marketing these features, features that the iPhone and other Android smartphones don’t have.

In doing that, they’ve gone into the “tick tock” cycle of releasing handsets used so successfully by Apple for their 3GS and 4S. It works for Apple because of a unique combination of premium quality build, thriving ecosystem and the assurance of knowing when is the best time to purchase iPhones in the annual cycle. Now that Samsung has garnered such a huge marketshare in the smartphone domain, it’s not just about selling hardware to their customers anymore. It’s about selling software features that differ themselves from other manufacturers.

I’ve got no doubt that Samsung will sell a boat load of these devices and if you own the 2 generation old S2, it’s definitely worth an upgrade. Samsung did say that the Galaxy S3 will get the S4 features down the road via an update so I’m not sure how enticing is it for S3 owners to upgrade.

Competition in the smartphone market has never been more hotly contested between Apple and Samsung so it’ll be interesting to see if what Samsung has done is enough to push Apple into greater heights this year.