In the world of Android, the Emperor needs clothes
This image says it all
I am currently on my first smartphone, I came into the market late in the game but I finally decided to take the plunge by mid 2011. Around that time I saw a review of the galaxy s II on engadget by one Vlad Savov pre exodus and it had me hooked into that phone more than any other.
It was shown to be significantly faster and smoother than other android phones of the time, the screen while not the highest res, had what I considered a great screen tech in super amoled +, the design was sleek and beautiful. On the last some people knocked the phone for using plastic, but those critiques were hollow and empty to me, like the chattering of desperate fans of alternate phones and platforms grasping at straws to knock the S II.
It was the android phone of 2011. Month after month "flagship" phones came out from competitors like HTC (the 3d) and Motorolla (photon and later the bionic) and every time they were shown up by what samsung released MONTHS before over in Europe. So I waited and ignored all the competing offerings that were available sooner and got the galaxy S II when it hit the US.
This is the world of android. You can't keep the SAME design you had last year and expect the same relative success like apple can with their iphone. The reasons are not magical, they are structural. If a consumer breaks towards android, they still have to choose from multiplle vendors, if a consumer breaks towards iOS, it's all iphone and apple.
What this means is that to outstrip your rivals in the android world, you need top notch design ant top notch performance. Cameras matter, speed matters, screen tech, it ALL matters. And in 2011, the stars aligned for Samsung, their screen tech was at or near the top, their exynos chip line was superior to the offerings from Qualcomm and nvidias tegra 2, the phone was thinner and lighter than its rivals, and the design was attractive, a black slate front with a beautiful screen.
Those are the clothes, and in 2012, those in house advantages for Samsung are GONE. Qualcomm's S4 looks to be the best mobile chip currently on the market, and that is available to everyone, super LCD 2 is a large advance in lcd quality (who makes that? sharp?) and once again that is available to all.
This disproportionately lifts HTC up as they try to go with the best components available to them, and right now, the best components are not controlled by Samsung to lock into their devices before all.
And that is why Samsungs relative success for 2012 will be lower compared to 2011. The stars of superior technology are no longer aligned for them, and those are the clothes of android. Meet the new emperor: