That’s not as bad as it sounds. The last two Samsung product launches beamed into New Zealand live from the USA rate among some of the most excruciating and embarrassing product launches I’ve ever had to endure. Not sitting through that kind of torture is a blessing.
Samsung sells more smartphones than any other company. It makes nice hardware. The Galaxy S5 is one of the best Android phones you can buy. Samsung’s smartphones and tablets are fine. They should speak for themselves, but that’s not how Samsung’s marketing works.
Instead the phone maker turns to Broadway style tap-dancing, ham acting, outrageous sexual and racial stereotypes, and long-winded speeches about content deals that don’t apply outside of North America.
There’s other dodgy thinking. Samsung uses Android, but insists on overlaying the standard operating system with its own software, something that doesn’t make Android better but does make the phones a little less compatible with other Android devices and slow things down a tad.
Frankly the Galaxy S5 user interface is a horrible mess.
Samsung also loads up its phones with bloatware that no-one uses in the mistaken belief it is adding value.
Three statistics illustrate that the Samsung Galaxy S5 was not a success.
First, as Chris Keall says in his story, the Galaxy S5 fell 40 percent short of Samsung’s expectations. You can forgive a company for being a little optimistic, but being 40 percent off in a sales forecast is disastrous.
Second, Samsung’s profits continue to drop. The company has told investors there’s a problem with increased competition in smartphones. Apple on the other hand is making increased profits from smartphones.
Third, prices for the Galaxy S5 have fallen fast. When the phone first appeared less than a year ago the recommended retail price was NZ$1100. Today you can buy Samsung Galaxy S5 for NZ$650.
The 40 percent price drop speaks volumes. Apple iPhone prices rarely fall during the first year of a product’s life. Knocking 40 percent off the price hints at desperation to buy market share. It’s possible Samsung loses money every time it sells a Galaxy smartphone.
If Samsung is lining up its next flagship smartphone, it faces enormous pressure and has little room for manoeuvre. Let’s hope the focus is on building great hardware and there’s no more cheesy presentations, boring speeches, crap user interfaces or bloatware.