You have to hand it to Samsung really. After getting the public to generate unprecedented buzz and pandemonium, Samsung certainly brought in the Galaxy S 4 with a bang thanks to its snazzy Unpacked 2013: Episode I event. Heck— the buzz and excitement caused not one, but two competitors to try and pour salt in Sammy’s coffee, yet Sammy wasn’t deterred. As opposed to the traditional unveilings and demos that we’re used to seeing at keynote events, Samsung instead thought about doing something ummm, “unique” or “different” to say the least by providing a variety of skits, dances and literally theatrics to introduce its new flagship. More importantly, Samsung used its brand name to be out of the box in comparison to its competitors: go into the heart of the Broadway, use one of the world’s largest stages complete with an orchestra, an MC and some sweet live performances to introduce something that is “unique” and different”.
While those of us in attendance were quite impressed (and believe us, Rob Nazarian & I were certainly entertained at the event)— the Galaxy S 4 certainly poses a significant observation of not just the Galaxy S 4, but Samsung as a brand as we know it: Samsung is utilizing the features and more importantly— the marketing of its products to sell its brand. Make no mistake about it: Samsung has made a serious transition going from what was known as a relatively unknown Korean brand to a wannabe Apple competitor to what is perhaps the most exciting and controversial brand to date. The scary thing is this— not only is the transition a success, but everyone else is now playing catchup in terms of brand recognition and excitement.
Let’s start off with the basics of why Samsung is focusing on its software and features that distinguish itself from the competition. As you’re already aware, the Galaxy S 4 smartphone comes with internals that have been seen in most, if not all other flagship phones already including the full 1080p display, 2 gigs of RAM and a quad-core processor (save for the octa-core processor to be found in select variants of the device). If you paid close attention to the Unpacked event, Samsung spent no more than 5 or so minutes highlighting the hardware and internal of the device, but instead spent over 45 minutes highlighting all the bells and whistles of its unique feature set.
For example, Samsung spent an extraordinary amount of time highlighting its Sound and Shoot feature which more or less allows users to record audio clips to compliment any image that is taken with a smartphone— to the average user, this is something that is probably going to be useless, but Samsung spent a great amount of time and energy to make the feature truly compelling and meaningful… even if it’s not in reality. Another example is the fact that Sammy also took an extraordinary amount of time highlighting its revamped S Voice Drive feature– which is more or less a combination of bits and pieces of Apple’s Siri, Google’s Maps/Now/Navigation app and its original S Voice feature to make what supposed to be the most revolutionary and complete hands-free while driving app to date. I’ve only given two examples of what the Galaxy S 4 has to offer, but here’s a complete rundown of the Galaxy S 4’s feature set that was showcased at some point at yesterday’s announcement:
- Smart Pause
- Optical Reader
- Group Play
- Phototography: Drama Shot Photo Eraser, Sound and Shot, Cinema Photo, Dual Shot, Dual Recording, ChatON Video Chatting
- ChatON Screen Sharing
- S Translator
- Adapt Display
- S Health
Samsung couldn’t have pulled off showcasing the compelling needs for the smartphone’s features without its topnotch research and marketing department. Don’t forget folks— Samsung isn’t afraid of spending money on its research and marketing departments— and it shows. Take a look at not just its extensive “4” marketing campaign, but its highly successful campaign last year showcasing its Galaxy S III smartphone. While Apple spent an enormous amount of time and resources participating in a major legal battle against Samsung, Samsung instead spent an enormous amount of time highlighting what its Galaxy S III could do that the Apple iPhone couldn’t at the time, such as utilize true 4G LTE and enjoying the ability to share personal items with the simple tap of the device. The result is not only a Samsung loyal following that grew from this, but many iPhone users as well as other Android brand users jumping straight to the Samsung ship as well. The Korean giant spends an enormous amount of time observing the trends and seeing what people really want and the Galaxy S 4 as well as upcoming products are a reflection of that notion.
So are the Galaxy S 4 and future Samsung products a reflection of cutting edge technology and innovation? Well no… not really. But that isn’t Samsung’s gameplan at this point. Samsung is taking aim at the general consumer at this point and showcasing how its products differ from the competition, even if it’s something we’ve already seen before. There’s a bigger picture too with Samsung’s plan: by doing this strategy, Samsung is using its marketing and special features in its devices to slowly distance itself not only from Apple and other Android manufacturers— but Google itself. If the other brands haven’t paid much attention before, they may want to start doing so soon, very soon.