By Stephen Schenck | March 1, 2013 7:03 AM
Samsung has been enjoying some incredible success in the mobile sphere. Last year’s models like the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II are still some of the most desirable Androids around, and the Galaxy S IV launch may have the most buzz around it of any smartphone event this season. Success can be a perilous thing, though, especially in an industry which moves as fast as this one. Spend too much time looking at what you’ve done to realize that success and focus your efforts on repeating it again, and you can quickly begin to suffer from a lack on innovation – you can go stale. While Samsung continues to push the envelope with hardware and software, it may have gotten itself into a bit of a rut when it comes to design.
Think back a couple weeks to when we came across an image that looked a bit like how we were expecting the Note 8.0 to appear. Even at the time, we noticed some abnormalities that didn’t match the leaked Note 8.0 pics, and it’s clearly not how the tablet actually arrived, but even if we hadn’t seen it in an official Samsung photo, we’d still be thinking that it was a Samsung device. Even as a generic placeholder image, it was unquestionably Samsung.
The dimensions may change, but whether we’re looking at the Galaxy S III, Galaxy S III Mini, Galaxy Note II, or Galaxy Note 8.0, it’s like we’re seeing the same phone, stretched and warped to fit its screen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it sure can get a little boring. How much Hyperglaze can a man stand?
In all fairness, I realize Samsung isn’t solely sticking to this one design. The ATIV S and ATIV Odyssey certainly, while taking a few cues from that group, go off in their own directions – Samsung can be a little looser with its tablet designs, as well – but there’s definitely an over-arching “Samsung look” at play.
For all the flack the HTC One gets for being a seriously derivative design, at least it’s something a little new for the company; no one’s going to confuse it with the One X or Windows Phone 8X. Love it or hate it, HTC is still experimenting to find what resonates with consumers.
OK, it’s easy to say “do something different”, but what should Samsung try? I’m sure some of you will reject this as just more of Samsung ripping off Apple every chance it gets, but what about metal? Not some chromed-up plastic, but some quality, durable metal. Show us how it can be done right, without succumbing to the sort of dings that keep marring the iPhone 5.
I know, millions of Samsung fans will buy the Galaxy S IV no matter what it looks like, and it’s getting to the point where the Samsung brand name itself is nearly as important as any of the actual hardware of its phones, but a little experimentation couldn’t hurt. If there’s backlash, tweak designs some more. I just think that if Samsung wants to stay on top, it can’t get too comfortable resting on its laurels.