Samsung Shows Willingness to Change with Two New Smartphones

by Matt Klassen on March 3, 2015

The simple fact is that unlike Apple, Samsung does not have the luxury to rest on its laurels when it comes to smartphone upgrades. While for years we’ve seen Apple rake in the money through its ability to entice its rabid fan base with disappointing incremental improvements, the moment Samsung tried a similar tack the Korean company began to slide, losing significant ground and weakening its grip on the world’s largest smartphone company.

To counter its diminishing market presence Samsung came out swinging this week at the annual Mobile World Congress, unveiling the new Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, which sports a slightly curved display. As a counterpoint to Apple’s “Bend-gate” controversy both phones are metal instead of plastic, plus they include wireless charging, advanced camera tech, and feature Samsung’s newly released mobile payment platform, Samsung Pay. Both the features and the altered form factor represent a major departure from previous iterations of the Galaxy franchise.

But will a Galaxy redesign be enough for Samsung to regain its swagger in the mobile market? There’s no question that the Galaxy S5 was a relative flop and Samsung, having taken the time to investigate the mistakes it made, has worked hard to correct its shortcomings with the S6, but whether the market is still interested in Samsung with up-and-comers like Xiaomi, HTC, and Lenovo gobbling up market share, well that remains to be seen.

After dominating the global smartphone market for the last several years Samsung saw its ironclad hold slip in 2014, as the company saw a mass exodus of customers to smaller rivals like Xiaomi in China and Micromax in India, both major burgeoning smartphone markets. The companies were able to compete with Samsung by utilizing the Korean company’s own mobile strategy, flooding the market with affordable smartphones with high end features.

To show that its willing to change, however, Samsung made some significant adjustments not only to its smartphone hardware, but to its software as well. While the new S6 line-up will sport Android 5.0, what it no longer has is actually the bigger story, as Samsung has pared down the default software features, known as “bloat-ware”, included on its phones. This was one of the major consumer complaints recently regarding Samsung, and the company was quick to listen.

“By listening to our customers, and learning from both our success and missteps, we continuously push forward new technologies and ideas,” JK Shin, Samsung co-CEO and head of the company’s mobile business, said in a press release.

While the S6 itself looks like a relatively conventional upgrade on its predecessors, one has to wonder if the curved form factor changes to the S6 Edge offer enough differentiation to attract consumers. The fact that the curved screen wraps only slightly around the edges of the phone seems to stand as evidence that Samsung really doesn’t know if consumers want such material changes, leaving me to believe that the S6 Edge will serve as nothing more than a lacklustre niche device, perhaps killing the entire curved screen movement in the process.

In the end I have to say that Samsung has made some bold changes to its Galaxy line-up, changes designed to challenge Apple and boldly reassert the Korean company’s dominance in the mobile market. From here it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the mobile market responds, knowing full well that Apple will likely do nothing and still be able to generate worldwide attention.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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