May 7, 2012
Samsung’s presentation of the Galaxy S III (I’m using the Roman numeral only because it reads a lot nicer than the Galaxy S3) was painful to watch. In the literal sense, the livestream was janky and stuttery, and it made me physically ill to keep watching. I wasn’t alone â€“ our own Jeff Scott thought he had ingested too much caffeine. Well, we as if there’s such a thing, but that wasn’t the excuse. It just was part of how Samsung doesn’t get how to do a product launch, especially compared to the company they idolize: Apple.
The word that kept sticking out to me was “customers” â€“ Samsung on one hand was trying to pitch their phone as a more natural, and more human experience, yet they kept saying how it would be good for their “customers.” The word customer conjures up the idea of money exchanging hands, and that the people who use this phone are those who spend money on it. It was rather confusing terminology, and seemed to belie Samsung’s true purpose with the phone.
Compare this with Apple product announcements. They are similar, but Apple does a much better job at making sure that they stay on message â€“ that this thing they are revealing can do so much for people. Not just living, breathing sacks of money. Sure, they talk about price, but it’s about so much more than that.
It felt like Samsung was attempting a pale imitation of an actual Apple keynote â€“ the joke being that Samsung has been accused of copying Apple. The announcement was meant to feel human, but it felt like robotic corporate-speak. The stilted marketing buzzwords used when talking about being a corporate partner of the Olympics in London fell extremely flat because it didn’t feel genuine, or even useful to the announcement. Just the words “corporate partner” threw up red flags, as they should. Again, it indicates money exchanging hands, not a genuine human experience that Samsung wants to push, seemingly.
The other problem with mimicking an Apple announcement is that Samsung took it a bit too much to heart: oh, you have voice recognition? Yeah, Apple announced that back in October. You can stream videos and mirror your screen to your TV with a special box? Yeah, you’ve been able to do that for like a year now too with Apple products.
The phone design itself doesn’t seem to impress â€“ Samsung talked about it being inspired by pebbles and nature, but there’s just something off about it. Perhaps it’s the lack of symmetry, possibly demanded by legal issues as Android Police points out. Or maybe Samsung just tried to swing for a home run, and have missed so far. Maybe customers will decide that this thing is actually really nice-looking, and we’re all just freaking out.
It’s a shame that Samsung can’t do an exciting product announcement. They’re the one company out there with the scruples to actually pull it off. They have the kind of clout to get people to pay attention, to watch a livestream of their product announcements. It’s too bad that they’re aiming for second rate Apple imitations across the board.