How Samsung is Copying Apple - In Even More Ways Than Reported So Far!
So, I think The Verge (via articles, videos and podcasts) as been on the forefront of identifying the dynamics between Samsung and Apple. I'd suggest that there's far more copying going on than what has been explained to date. Allow me to explain:
(note: when I say "copying" I am not necessarily judging Samsung. It's an assessment that can be taken as good or bad, depending on your values and perspective.)
On March 14, Samsung rolled out the Galaxy S4 to the world, Broadway Style. Now, to many of us, it comes off as cheesy, over-the-top and downright antithetical to our sensibilities. But, guess what? It's a form of mainstream entertainment, and the Galaxy series is not for "us" -- it's for the vast majority of the population, of which only a small sliver even know The Verge exists.
Similarly, the multitude of features that Samsung unveiled as part of their presentation are specifically designed to be novel, pique interest, and be easy to explain via a massive advertising campaign. To me, the only feature that is appealing is the glove-touch technology. I'd love to use my phone when it's cold outside. But the rest of the features are just so over-the-top and not interesting to me. But I can absolutely see almost every single one of those features making for a killer TV ad -- an ad that drills home that no other phone can do these things. That, my friends, is what's called marketing differentiation.
However, I need to get back to my purpose here -- how is this Samsung copying Apple? I mean, Apple doesn't put on Broadway plays to demo features, and Apple doesn't put in novel features that barely matter in the real world... so how is this copying?
Samsung is copying Apple by amplifying features (features that already exist or features that just seem "cool") via marketing messages, and linking it back to the core "brand promise." Apple's brand promise is "It just works." People know if they buy an iPhone, it's going to be easy to use and it'll be reliable for them. And it's "made for people -- not engineers."
Samsung's brand promise is rapidly becoming "It does cool things." And guess what? That message works quite well with mainstream people. And that pedestrian TouchWiz design is, well, designed for pedestrians! That wicked cool Halo theme & launcher by Mattias Duarte is the cat's meow to me, but it's still not mainstream-y enough. Remember, mainstream tech needs to reach a lot of people who don't share our fundamental knowledge or experience. They sometimes need some extra gloss (via iOS's simplicity or TouchWiz's cartoonish stylings) between the average user and the core technology.
Lastly, Samsung totally pulled an Apple with S-Translate. Google Translate has been around for a while, as most of us know. And last night's wrap-up, Nilay dismissed it as "it's just Google Translate with some minor enhancements." Nilay is wrong, and here's why: Google Translate is an app that barely anyone except us who care about such things knows about. A capability that nobody knows about is not valuable. Samsung pulled an Apple here by taking something that already exists, giving it a name, making it a bit more accessible by tweaking the functionality slightly, and promoting the hell out of it. THIS, my friends, is what Apple does best. And, this, now, is what Samsung is doing. They're taking stuff that Android offers them, tweaking it, and marketing the hell out of it.
It's how consumer marketing works. And Samsung has figured out what Apple has known for a long time: Power users help predict future needs, but the average user needs to be educated and marketed to. Microsoft has fallen victim to this dynamic now for a decade: Just because you built it doesn't mean they're going to come. Those days in consumer tech are over.
And this is why the Galaxy S4 is an awesome smartphone that I'd recommend to a lot of people who I'd used to recommend an iPhone -- but it's a device that I have no interest in whatsoever.
Agree? Disagree? Discuss!