Tag Archives: samsung

Gold Digger

Call it strategic. Call it obnoxious. Whatever you want to call it, Samsung announced a gold version of its Galaxy S4 this week, probably because Apple’s new gold-tinted iPhone 5s is the hottest new phone on the market and yet it’s nowhere to be found.

Whether or not you believe Samsung “steals” ideas from Apple, and/or always has, Samsung has not handled this announcement well. Samsung could have said it planned to release a gold Galaxy S4 months before the first leaked photos of the gold iPhone 5s. But instead, Samsung reacted to its own news with an awkward and defensive blog post that, once again, alienates consumers by disrespecting their collective intelligence.

The PR team starts off with a groaner: “By now you probably know that aliens work with Samsung, well so do some gods – Midas, to name one.” Not only is this sentence a strange way to start any conversation whatsoever, I’m pretty sure Midas was a king.

But wait, there’s more:

“About a month ago on August 27th, Samsung launched the GALAXY S4 Gold edition in the United Arab Emirates (These were available in stores starting September 8th). It’s since also been released in Kuwait and Qatar.”

The blog post concludes with eight examples of previously released gold Samsung phones, which the company says is “not a complete list” and again feels like another distortion, especially since seven out of the eight examples are feature phones, not smartphones, and at least three of those models are bronze or copper, not gold.

But now I’m getting into the semantics of what qualifies as “gold,” which isn’t the point here. Here’s the point: The move itself may have seemed opportunistic and pathetic, but this blog post is much worse. It shows a true lack of respect for its readers by completely neglecting the reality of the situation: People know the gold iPhone exists, and people know Samsung has been accused of copying in the past.

Samsung claims it spends a great deal of time listening to fans, which means it clearly scans the news every single day. News of an Apple smartwatch surfaces earlier this year, and two months later, Samsung announces it’s working on its own smartwatch (which turns out to be a smart “companion” — not a smartwatch, and definitely not the iWatch killer many were hoping for). And now, as Apple is again in the news for its unattainable but highly desirable gold iPhone 5s, Samsung goes ahead and does this.

Samsung is a massively powerful company with a rare opportunity to shape and lead today’s malleable tech scene, but its marketing and PR is nothing short of tasteless and cringeworthy. If you don’t believe me, check out this semi-racist ad, or this thoroughly unwatchable Galaxy S4 unveiling:

Samsung’s Watch

When describing its own invention, Samsung called its Galaxy Gear smartwatch a “companion,” which is apt because the wristwatch fails to be smart on its own.

Sure, it’ll tell you the time on its 1.63-inch 320×320 resolution touchscreen, and it’ll take pictures from its awkwardly-protruding 1.9-megapixel camera, but most “smartwatch” functions in the Gear require another Samsung device — and only four such devices will support the Gear in the next several months.

The Gear is indeed a companion, at least to would-be Samsung device owners. But will even Samsung owners care?

The Gear, despite being a completely new piece of hardware, offers surprisingly few unique features. The Gear either mirrors or extends features from other Samsung devices — this includes the S Voice personal assistant, notifications for calls texts, emails and alerts, Voice Memo, and even the new Memographer feature from the Galaxy Note 3. Sure, these Samsung features are easier to access from your wristwatch, but in the Gear’s case, Samsung owners might prefer using those native features on their phone or tablet.

The Gear, by most early accounts, totally reeks of a first-generation device. Four screws surround the Gear’s watch face, which is a major eyesore. Despite its 800MHz processor, it’s slow as molasses. The Verge said its software interface suffered from “tangible lag,” regardless if it was launching an app or activating the camera, and switching between apps and menus was not-so-intuitive. Engadget mentioned the inconvenience of its single physical button, located on the right side of the watch face, which is used for one too many essential functions like S Voice and the “safety assistance” feature for emergencies. The Gear was clearly built by engineers, not designers.

There are plenty of gripes with the Galaxy Gear, including its $300 price point, but the biggest killer to me, which also epitomizes the story of Samsung, is the device’s battery.

Samsung sees nothing wrong. The company boasts its Galaxy Gear battery, advertising a full 25 hours of life. Wow! 25 hours! That’s more than a day!

25 hours is more than a day, but the fact is, 25 hours of battery life is great for a smartphone, but not a watch. People don’t want to recharge their watches every day.

Samsung wanted a smart watch, and it got a wearable smartphone.

Samsung is an incredibly large, incredibly influential company. But even with its immense size and scope, Samsung’s name has been sullied since it was accused of stealing technologies from Apple’s iPhone and using a near-identical template to sell its popular line of Galaxy S smartphones. Apple’s opinion even held up in court, and Samsung was forced to fork over $1 billion for “borrowing” the iPhone’s essential patents –everything from icons, layout and interface design to the rubberbanding effect one experiences when scrolling to the top or bottom of a webpage.

samsung-phones-before-and-after-iphones

Samsung had a chance with the Gear to quiet the critics who said the company had no mind of its own, that it couldn’t innovate anything important. And as it turns out, Samsung cared more about preventing another court battle with Apple than creating a truly great product.

Samsung did beat Apple to the punch in creating the first smart watch, but Samsung once again confuses the issue. It’s not about specs on paper, and it’s not about doing it first — it’s about doing it best.

Apple was certainly watching today’s event, but unless the iWatch doesn’t work with non-iOS devices in the way Gear won’t work with non-Samsung devices, Cupertino need not worry about a bulky watch with visible screws, a slow and opaque interface, and a single day of battery life.