The Samsung Galaxy S4 presentation arrived last week. For those of you who missed it, or want to see some interesting skits and acting, you can always view it on YouTube.
I did not particularly care for the Broadway presentation or acting — nor did I care too much for the fact that one of the actors made it obvious that “Patrick isn’t his real name” and so on, statements that erase the beauty of what could have been an excellent performance. At the same time, I am also a tech writer who believes that excellent smartphones sell. I have also been disinterested in Sony’s “bikini model” advertisements for the Xperia Z. The phone has excellent hardware and does not need to be sold with babes in bikinis in the shower. While sex appeal has always been used to market products, it need not be the case in technology — even if the tech world is seen by many to be “a man’s world.” There are some things that sex (in my highest opinion) cannot sell. When I want to see the latest smartphone and its features, I do not want to be sidetracked by someone “showing skin.” I want to buy a smartphone, not a bikini model — so a lot less skin and a lot more smartphone modeling works just fine for me.
Despite what I thought was a troubling performance, it must be said that the Galaxy S4 (overshadowed by poor acting) is still a top smartphone and one that will sell millions for Samsung this year. There is no denying the power of Samsung’s Galaxy line and all the features it offers the user. I have a Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5, and the difference between the customization of the GS3 and the controlled nature of the iPhone 5 is like the difference between night and day. Samsung took the stage with its GS4 to show the world of consumers that it can innovate effectively. While most GS3 users may not find good reason to upgrade to a GS4 (and escape the current two-year contract they’re under), there are features worth admiring about the GS4. Very few GS3 users, I’m sure, know about all the juicy camera features in their GS3s. I took some time to examine the camera app the other day and was simply amazed at all the camera features I have available — everything from “snow” and “beach” settings to “screen resolution” and “GPS tag.” The GS4 adds to the enormous features provided — keeping you busy with your smartphone through the length of your entire phone contract.
Apple, however, looks to impress with its iPhone 5S. Cupertino has not had such good fortune within the last six months, watching its stock drop to approximately 30% less than its peak in September 2012. Immediately after the GS4 presentation, however, Apple’s stock increased 2% — leading many to believe that Apple sent Samsung a “thank you note” for its surprising good fortune and capitalization on Samsung’s iteration announcement. Still, Apple’s stock is still in bad shape, considering that Cupertino was branded as the company whose stock would reach $1000 first.
Not only did Apple’s stock improve, but Apple analysts are now proclaiming that Apple will introduce a “killer feature” in its iPhone 5S that will help the company rebound in its customer base. Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty had this to say about Apple’s comeback on CNBC:
“You saw the Samsung Galaxy S4 come out last week, that shows you the innovation cards are up for grabs. What is lacking in (the S4) is a killer feature. We think that’s where Apple will surprise this year. This (iPhone) 5S cycle this year will be about a killer feature that drives consumers increasingly to the platform…” (Katy Huberty, quoted by Eric Mack, “IPhone 5S will bring back ‘one more thing,’ analyst says.” CNET).
According to Huberty, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 lacks a killer feature. I think this is a rather subjective statement, but Samsung’s GS3 and GS4 have far more features to offer their users than Apple’s iPhones 4S and 5 have. I have owned both the 4S and 5, so I know what I know from user experience here, not hearsay.
What does Huberty mean by “killer feature”? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think one feature alone is gonna drive users back to a platform that has looked the same for the last six years — unless the killer feature involves a total revamp of the OS (which I’m sure will never happen).
All in all, I think Huberty’s comments are nothing more than hype for iPhone users who are dying for major changes in iOS. At the same time, I wouldn’t hold my breath for it — after all, it is sure to be an “S” phone, that, like the 4S, changes very little (faster processor, increased battery life, etc.). If Apple were to produce large changes in the “5S,” it would certainly be guilty of trying something different for once. Apple may experiment, however, out of fear that its sales are not what they need to be in order to assure investors. It is often out of desperation that innovation comes.