Galaxy S5 Hands On: Samsung Galaxy S5 Review Part 1 | BGR:
“Chief among them is a novel new power-saving mode that only displays black and white, and restricts which apps can run.
When you’re nearing the end of a busy day and running out of juice, this feature is going to be amazing.”
AMAZING! I’m AMAZED! And if you’re not AMAZED you’re probably some kind of Apple fanboi.
Another report in the Korea Times suggests that Samsung is also working on a pair or smart glasses designed to compete with Google Glass, tentatively dubbed Galaxy Glass. Samsung is reportedly hoping to launch these glasses by September at IFA, which might get them to market sooner than Google makes its Glass available at the consumer level.
I’m trying to think of a new technology which has come out that Samsung hasn’t raced to copy.
Nope, still trying… no. Can’t think of anything.
How many stories in the tech press have you read over the past year which posited a theory of Apple being in trouble? Tens – probably hundreds of articles have appeared which put forward the idea that Apple’s needed to move the iPhone downmarket and create a cheaper version to gain market share. Failure to do this means doom.
So let’s take a look at a company which has followed exactly this plan, competing at every level of the smartphone market from cheap devices for the masses through to expensive, high-end phones: Samsung.
Samsung’s earnings are out, and they’re not pretty:
“Earnings will remain stagnant this year as the explosive growth of the past two to three years seems to have ended,” said Lee Sun Tae, a Seoul-based analyst at NH Investment & Securities Co. “Although the lower-end smartphone market will continue to grow, the scale of profit from that segment doesn’t compare to the high-end market so the growth seems limited.”
Samsung’s problem is simple: at the low end it is being squeezed out of existence by low-name and no-name Chinese manufacturers, all happy to stick “good enough” Android on their phones with no costly extra software. Although the company has tried to differentiate its products by value-ended extras and services, for price-conscious consumers these are meaningless or, in some cases, a turn-off.
At the high end, it is being squeezed by Apple, which has proved it can compete in any market.
If you want to make a comparison to the PC market, Samsung is like IBM was: a “quality brand” producing products which aren’t sufficiently different from cheaper commodity players like Dell. In the smartphone market, for Dell read Lenovo or (long term) Xiaomi.
Is Samsung price fixing? The Washington Post certainly thinks so:
“That sentiment has intensified in recent years, a period during which Samsung has obstructed price-fixing investigations — drawing only minor fines — and seen its chairman indicted for financial crimes, only to receive a presidential pardon ‘in the national interest,’ as a government spokesman put it.”
Maybe Google should amend “Don’t be evil” to “Don’t be evil, but don’t be too choosy about what your partners get up to”.
The Economist gives a fantastic insight into what makes Samsung successful. Hint: it’s not being innovative in terms of technology:
Samsung’s successes come from spotting areas that are small but growing fast. Ideally the area should also be capital-intensive, making it harder for rivals to keep up. Samsung tiptoes into the technology to get familiar with it, then waits for its moment. It was when liquid-crystal displays grew to 40 inches in 2001 that Samsung took the dive and turned them into televisions. In flash memory, Samsung piled in when new technology made it possible to put a whole gigabyte on a chip.
When it pounces, the company floods the sector with cash. Moving into very high volume production as fast as possible not only gives it a price advantage over established firms, but also makes it a key customer for equipment makers. Those relationships help it stay on the leading edge from then on.
The strategy is shrewd. By buying technology rather than building it, Samsung assumes execution risk not innovation risk. It wins as a “fast follower”, slipstreaming in the wake of pioneers at a much larger scale of production. The heavy investment has in the past played to its ability to tap cheap financing from a banking sector that is friendly to big companies, thanks to implicit government guarantees much complained about by rivals elsewhere.
Now consider this in the context of how it’s worked in the smartphone market. “Fast follower”, indeed.
Google exec hints Android 5.0 will launch in the autumn:
Speaking to Computerworld, Hiroshi Lockheimer, vice president of engineering for mobile at Google, suggested Android 5.0 will launch in the fall. He stated “In general, the Android release cadence is one major release a year with some maintenance releases that are substantial still.”
Since its launch, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) has got just one percent of the overall Android market. It’s currently shipping on a handful of phones, with a few tablets also announced. Few existing phones or tablets have got upgrades, beyond the “Pure Google” Nexus devices (and if you have the Nexus One, you’re out of luck).
How will the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 compare to the iPad 2? Seth Weintraub at Fortune highlights four points where the Samsung scores well compared to the iPad:
- Runs on HSPA+ ’4G’ networks at up to 21Mbps without sending it back to the shop
- It somehow weighs less than the iPad 2 Wifi at 599 grams with 4G equipment!
- It has an 8-megapixel rear camera with auto focus vs.<1 megapixel fixed focus iPad and 5 megapixel on XOOM
- Dual surround sound speakers.
Looking at those, my first thought is “good luck with battery life”. The same weight (it’s a gram less) plus HSPA+ is going to hurt the battery life quite a bit.