This coming week, we will be introduced to the latest in a line of reasonably successful phablets. The original Samsung Note arguably helped shape the “phablet” space when it debuted three years ago. It was in and of itself an innovation. Sure, it’s just a smartphone with a big screen, but sometimes the simplest innovations are the biggest (no pun intended) and most successful. And yes, it’s at this point that I grudgingly have to admit that a heart monitor is an “innovation”. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go vomit.
Samsung has done its share of trying out new things over the years. This isn’t to say that any of these endeavors have been successful, but they were attempts at innovation. After all, “innovation” doesn’t necessarily equate with “successful”. The most obvious example of Samsung innovation is the Galaxy round. Sure, it looked like a half-flattened Pringle, and it curved too much and the wrong way. But it was an innovation that could have long-lasting effects in the industry.
Turn it up! Bring the Note!
Which brings us to the Note 4 announcement this week. Some reports have indicated that Samsung’s Note 4 might feature a wrap around screen. This would certainly be an innovation and it would do a lot to break Samsung out of the boring reputation it has been developing over the last two years. Not since the GSIII has Samsung really put out a product that disrupted the industry. Will a wrap around screen disrupt the industry again? I don’t know, but I somehow doubt it.
But Samsung is an industry leader here. The latest statistics put Samsung in pretty firm control of 43% of the Android smartphone world. That’s one company almost holding a majority by itself. That leaves the rest of the Android space to clamor over the leftovers. Even if HTC or LG really innovated, say with a dual focus or even laser focused camera, who is going to notice?
No, Samsung has to be the innovative force in this industry to push the boundaries and show what’s possible with a screen, or with a stylus, or with software. The Note 4 is Samsung’s opportunity to do it, lest we be forced to wait another 6 months and deal with yet another boring Samsung smartphone.
When you look at the numbers, it’s exactly those boring smartphones that are selling, and selling butt loads. The Samsung GS4 and GS5 have not matched the sales of the GSIII, this is true, but they’re beating the pants off the Round and even their respective Notes. The Galaxy Notes are successful devices, but not as successful as their smaller brethren.
So, maybe it behooves Samsung to stay the course and keep putting out “boring” smartphones and leave the innovation to the outliers, the GS4 Neos and whatnot. As the saying goes, “never mess with a winning streak”. Maybe it’s in Samsung’s best interest to put more vanilla into its ice cream cone and leave the more exotic flavored cones for the “experiments”.
After all, if one of those outliers does strike lighting, that lightning receptacle could always be worked into the next Galaxy flagship. It makes sense not to change up a good thing. Why jinx it? Maybe Samsung is looking at its decreased sales and wondering where it needs to pick things up to get the phones flying out the door again.
The marketing machine
In the meantime, the marketing machine can keep churning out airports and billboards and Apple insults like there’s no tomorrow. It’s not like those things are going to change. Maybe Samsung has absolutely no motivation to innovate with its two flagships. I guess the consumer market will dictate that.
So what do you think about all this? Samsung is going into its fourth flagship without a whole lot to get excited about. Are you excited? Maybe that Snapdragon 805 SoC or that fourth gig of RAM blows your skirt up? Or do you really need to see Samsung up its game on this fourth generation? Sound off below – do the innovation soldiers have to be out in full force or are you more in the “steady as she goes” camp?