They’re everywhere, they sell like hotcakes from China to Africa and from Paris to New York, they’ve become almost easier to recognize than Apple’s iPhones and they’re cool in the eyes of teenagers, grown men and women and elders alike.
I’m talking about Samsung smartphones, nay Samsung phones in general. The members of the “Galaxy” that took over the world last year and now hold the reigns of the mobile market with a lead over Apple, Nokia or HTC that just keeps on growing fiscal quarter after quarter.
Sammy grabbed a hefty 23.7% share in the mobile phone market for the entire of 2012, beating Nokia to the punch with a 4% lead and leaving Apple in the dust, with a measly 7.8% share. And the Koreans’ domination over the competition is even more impressive when we’re referring just to smartphone sales.
Thus, according to Strategy Analytics, Samsung held a 30.4% share in the smartphone market last year, which was a whopping 11 percent higher than Apple’s share. The rest of the “competition” is not even worth mentioning, being but a mere blip on the radar.
But what exactly is it that makes Samsung’s mobile business so profitable? Are Galaxy phones so much better than the rest? If so, what makes them better? It would take us an eternity to peel off all the layers of Samsung’s incredibly competitive mobile device line-up, so for now we’ll limit ourselves to four reasons. Four reasons why Samsung is and will remain number one for time to come:
1. Diversity and freedom of choice
Unlike Apple, who keeps its customers contained in a closed ecosystem, with just one choice of a smartphone (though likely to become two or three soon enough), Samsung understands that every human, hence every tech consumer too, is different.
Each individual has different needs and tastes from all the others and, while it’s impossible to offer every consumer a unique phone, you can offer them enough choice to give that illusion. And right now, in the US alone, there are 160 handhelds sold by Samsung, ranging from entry-level to high-end, from dumb to smart devices and from tiny to huge.
And that’s not counting upcoming products, which are unveiled basically on a weekly basis. Plus, you have your Asian exclusives and your special European models. Not to mention most of these come with on-board Android, which, at least in the sense of freedom of choice, is far superior compared with Apple’s iOS. Need I say more?
There’s a good reason why the media has made a big fuss about Motorola X’s rumored marketing budget. It’s because, like it or not, money well spent brings more money. Namely, putting your name on the radar will make people remember you better when making a purchase.
But Samsung is not only spending oodles of money on marketing. It is spending said money wisely, with hilarious jab-taking at Apple and just old-fashioned brand awareness reinforcements. How about a little exercise? Get out on the street right now, no matter if you live in the US, Korea, France or South Africa. Look to your right, then your left.
Walk for half an hour or so. Go inside a grocery store, any kind of grocery store. How many times have you seen Samsung’s logo? Now turn on your TV and wait for commercial time. What name are you hearing more, Samsung, Nokia, HTC or LG? Exactly.
3. Software customizations and support
Android fans don’t like software tweaks, customizations, special UIs and pre-installed skins. It’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have in regards to the mobile market. Yes, there are those that like their Android experience as pure as possible (namely, hackers, modders and so on).
But for us regular tech-savvy folks, there’s nothing blander than stock Android. Well, for most of us at least. Then again, there is something we hate more than simplicity – ugly skins that change everything and do it for the worst. Think HTC’s Sense.
Meanwhile, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Sure, it still needs work here and there and it’s trying a little too much to be cutesy, but on the whole I’d go for a TouchWiz-powered phone over a vanilla Android device anytime.
As far as software support goes, I know it’s hard to be 100% objective and distance yourselves from specific personal experiences, but if you do that you’ll notice there’s no OEM more dedicated and engaged to bring as many users up to date as Samsung.
Samsung has more Jelly Bean-based devices than anyone else right now and there’s no sign the Koreans will stop doing what they do software support-wise anytime soon.
4. The two faces of success – ruthlessness and glamour
In mobile, like any other business, if you want to be successful, you have to be both good with the people you need and evil with those that can block your rise to fame. Samsung has perfectly mastered that of late, knowing exactly when and how to be pragmatic, but also glamorous.
The glamorous side of things can be noticed any time an “Unpacked” or “Premiere” event is organized. No one else in the business knows how to build hype Samsung-style and no one else knows how to grab the media attention with grand presentations.
Meanwhile, let’s not kid ourselves. Today’s mobile world is not one of innovation, but of evolution. And in that context, Samsung is once again number one. Their inventions in the true sense of the word are almost nonexistent, but the Koreans have been ruthless enough to know when to “steal” or “borrow” ideas and how to make them their own.
True, they’re likely to pay the price for all that, seeing as Apple has won a few patent battles of late, but what’s a couple billion dollars when you run a business of hundreds of billions in revenue each year?
That’s all from me folks, but as usual I’d like this to be a dialogue. Don’t agree with my opinions? Hit back at me with a comment. Know better reasons why Samsung is the greatest? I’m all ears. Think everything will change in the near future? I’m dying to hear why.