New Samsung, Old Problem

Recently Samsung has stated that its operating profits have declined by 4%. This is not a current issue as Samsung has been trying to boost sales for quite a while now. Most recently, the company has changed the design of their phones in an attempt to boost its sales. With the new Galaxy S6 and Note 5 – Samsung wants to target the increasing number of customers that are looking for a more premium experience.

In order to understand Samsung’s sudden change of image we must first understand the “Old Samsung”.

2 years ago, if I had to describe Samsung in a few a words I would have said: “too many and too much.” Too much plastic, too much screen, too many features and above all too many phones.

Unlike its competitors such as HTC, Sony and Apple; Samsung has always being very generous with the options offered to consumers, some could argue that Samsung was too generous. This generosity has helped them become one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world as well as allow them to gain first mover advantage in the “phablet” territory (Big screen phone territory). On the other hand, the abundance of phones and features has also been a double edge sword for Samsung.

Too many phones:

This is a list of all the phones that Samsung released-

In 2013:

  • Samsung Galaxy Win Pro (SM-G3812)
  • Samsung Galaxy J (SGH-N075)
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 (GT-S7582)
  • Samsung Galaxy Trend Plus (GT-S7580)
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 (SM-G7100)
  • Samsung Galaxy Star Pro (GT-S7260)
  • Samsung Galaxy Express 2 (SM-G3815)
  • Samsung Galaxy Round (SM-G9105)
  • Samsung Galaxy Trend Lite (GT-S7390)
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame Lite (GT-S6790)
  • Samsung Galaxy Light (SGH-T399)
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Plus (SM-G3500)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Gear
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (GT-I9190)[7]
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Active (GT-I9295)
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom (SM-C1010)[8]
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 (GT-S7270)[9]
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket Neo (GT-S5310)
  • Samsung Galaxy Star (GT-S5280)
  • Samsung Galaxy Core (GT-S8262)
  • Samsung Galaxy Y Plus (GT-S5303)
  • Samsung Galaxy Win (GT-I8550)
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame (GT-S6810)
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 (GT-I9500)
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 (GT-S7710)[11]
  • Samsung Galaxy Young (GT-S6310)
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand (GT-I9080)
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus (GT-I9105)
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket Plus (GT-S5301)

Compare that to the list of phones that Apple has released-

In its history

  • iPhone
  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3Gs
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 4s
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus

Guess which list I knew off the top of my head?

If you said Apple’s list you are right. If you said Samsung’s list, I am flattered that you think I know so much about phones as well as a bit offended that you think I am so obsessed with Samsung.

In the past, Samsung has always tried to target different consumer groups in an attempt to gain as much market share as possible. The problem with this is that some of the phones released by Samsung do not clearly target a market segment. For example: Many customers wanted a more premium experience and were not satisfied with the materials used for its devices (which is mostly plastic), as a result, Samsung released the “A series” which had a slim unibody metal construction. The problem with “A series” was that Samsung used mid-range processor which made the phone stutter and thus hinder the “Premium user experience” that customers wanted. Furthermore, because Samsung keeps producing phones for the high end, middle end and low end of the market, they are unable excel in any of the aforementioned segments.

Too many features:

If you own a Samsung phone you know that Samsung tends to include software features that you cannot find in other smartphones. See the following list of Samsung software features:

  • Dual window
  • Smart stay
  • Social tag
  • Smart alert
  • Best photo
  • All share play
  • Pop up play
  • Direct call
  • S health
  • S beam
  • S planner
  • S voice
  • S memo
  • S note
  • S keyboard
  • S video
  • S search

Samsung has so many features that you might have not noticed that the last 3 software features mentioned in the list above are actually not real. The fact that you did not notice them clearly indicates that although the features are unique it does not mean that consumers will use all of them. In fact all of these features were actually hindering the user experience for consumers. This is because the features included in the phones would put a lot of strain on the device’s processor and thus making the phone stutter.

  The “New Samsung”

Having said all of that – Samsung wants to change its image with the Galaxy S6 and the Note 5. These phones now pack a much more elegant design and user experience. These model have a metal and glass body that really give the phones a much more premium feel on the hand as well as reduce the software features, improving the performance and user experience. These changes can be interpreted as Samsung trying to imitate Apple’s devices in an attempt to boost their declining sales. It is still very uncertain if this has been a good move for Samsung.

In order to change the build quality of the S6 and Note 5, both models have lost the following features: expandable storage and replaceable batteries (features that have come to define Samsung). These changes have disappointed several customers. Many customers say that Samsung’s flagship phones used to be “Powerhouses” or “phones with little to no compromises” and now Samsung is just trying to copy Apple.

Conclusion

Many argue that Samsung recent changes will not help its sales and that more and more customers will switch to other brands because Samsung has lost its identity. It is true that recent Samsung flagship phones’ sales have not reach the estimates of the company and that many customers are not satisfied with the new products, but these are just short run issues. I believe that in order for a company to be successful they have to adapt and change, and this is what Samsung is doing. It is very important to highlight that the world of technology is constantly changing. Take Apple for example, the first iPhone cost around $1000 – 10 years ago no would have been willing to pay up to $1000 dollars for a phone (in most cases Phone carries would give you the phone for free)

In my opinion I think that Samsung is on the right track and that they will have to face a lot of challenges in the future, the only way to tackle these challenges is by adapting and changing in order stay relevant.


Writer: Eduardo Wu

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