With the steady proliferation of mobile technology the next thing customers are going to need is not another phone or tablet, but some sort of Batman-esque utility belt to hold all this stuff. The fact is many on the bleeding edge of technological innovation are discovering they have a problem, too many devices and not enough hands.
In today’s mobile market it seems there’s a device for everything, with tablets proficient in certain tasks and smartphones in others, with every company quickly looking for ways to unify these devices into one seamless user experience. But Samsung is taking this drive towards integration one step further (or perhaps one step backwards), ignoring advanced Cloud technology in favour of a simpler, more straightforward solution, a tablet/smartphone hybrid.
The Samsung Galaxy Note is set to hit shelves on February 19th, touted as a new type of smartphone that blends the convenience of a smartphone with the functionality of a tablet. But such a hybrid device is really nothing new, and I would guess that even those looking to simplify their digital existence would still rather have one useable smartphone and one useable tablet, instead of one partially functional hybrid.
It was a little over five months ago when the world got its first look at Samsung’s hybrid Galaxy Note device at the IFA tech conference in Berlin. The company touted its cutting edge hybrid device as a brand new class of smartphone set to fill that void between the conventional—and not to mention portable—smartphone and the versatile and functional tablet computing platform…if such a void really exists.
At the time the company stated, “The Galaxy Note is a new category of product, developed through Samsung’s deep consumer understanding and insight…It combines core on-the-go benefits of various mobile devices while maintaining smartphone portability to create a whole new user experience.”
I had to laugh when I first read Samsung’s effusive self-glorification (or perhaps self-delusion) when it spoke about the Galaxy Note as “a new category of product,” and of the company’s own “deep consumer understanding and insight,” given the fact that we’ve seen exactly this sort of hybrid device before with the Dell Streak and given the fact that consumers, in general, hated it.
According to Samsung, the Galaxy Note is targeted specifically at those looking to condense their proliferating device portfolio into a single product. Beyond that, I’m sure that the Galaxy Note will find its niche market, especially among certain professional and artistic crowds who will find value in the ability to scribble notes, drawings, or thoughts onto the phone with the included stylus, but I would guess that such a market still won’t be enough to keep the Note around for very long.
The issue with hybrid devices has historically been that they’re a Jack-of-all-trades but a King of none, functioning as a mediocre tablet and a mediocre smartphone. As I’ve said before, the problem with hybrid devices is generally that they combine the major weaknesses of the genres they are trying to marry, meaning that a device like the Note is too small to be a tablet, way too big to a smartphone; lacking the power or functionality of a tablet and, since it obscures half your face while you talk on it, I would say lacking the convenience of a mobile phone as well.
I’ll be interested to see if the Samsung Galaxy Note is able to overcome these weaknesses and actually succeed where others have failed when its released on February 19th–$300 on a two year contract with AT&T.