Samsung’s new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge have won the hearts of some critics in the industry, with one reputable site hailing Samsung’s new Galaxy S6 edge as “stunning” while noting that Samsung has stolen the design crown from HTC in 2015. Other critics are hopeful about the new look, but aren’t excited enough yet to place Samsung right beside Apple as a top contender in the smartphone market – although Samsung’s already established itself as Apple’s most powerful rival.
At the same time, criticism has come from not only critics but also from within Samsung’s own fan base.
That’s right: diehard Samsung fans are disappointed because the new designs eliminated the removable battery and microSD card features of Galaxy S models that were extremely popular for the last few years. While the removal of these features doesn’t come as a surprise to tech enthusiasts who’ve been staying afloat of the latest tech news, it does come as a surprise to average consumers who’ve purchased a Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S5 and are due for an upgrade (whether via a two-year agreement or early upgrade plan).
Just search randomly across the Web and you’ll find some of the following responses to Samsung’s Galaxy S 6 and S 6 edge announcement:
- • No IP67 certification and the battery is not removable? Samsung just shot themselves in the foot! Those are the main 2 reasons I bought an S5. What are they thinking?
- • No removable battery & no SD slot. The only two reasons that Samsung fanboys still remained with Samsung! Oh & that glass back? #fail
- • The water resistance, removable SD card, and removable battery are the main reason I chose the S5. I know I have no interest in ‘upgrading’ to the S6. I doubt I am alone.
- • So they got rid of the replaceable batteries, waterproof bodies, and SD cards that Android fans loved, and replaced function with the kind of pretty form that iPhone fans love, on the ill-conceived hope that iPhone fans will move to Samsung…now Samsung’s just giving reasons for guys like me to leave for other Android vendors. Android users often want the form AND the function, not just a pretty phone that allows them to spend money easily.
- • Samsung is getting rid of the features that set it apart. I was planning on replacing my S4 with an S6. Now I think I will investigate the alternatives…I feel like Samsung closed the doors on me.
- • What differentiated them [Samsung] and made me stay with them has now been replaced by a lame attempt to imitate the iPhone’s form/design factor. Personally, a slightly improved camera etc., mean nothing compared to the loss in order of importance: replaceable battery, waterproofing, and SD card…what a step backward.
- • The Next Big Thing is nowhere in sight. So saddened by Samsung’s weak attempt to mimic the biggest joke in innovation (Apple). You were unique…now you’re just the same. Guess I won’t be getting the S6 after all…
- • This year, they got the quality part and missed the crucial part that keeps its user coming back. Replaceable battery and sd card.
- • Apparently, the future sucks. Samsung builds the S4 – replaceable battery, large screen, added memory via microSD card, and runs Android. How cool is that? For those who are not members of the Apple congregation, it is as cool as can be. Then Google buggers Android so that almost no one can get access to all that memory on the microSD card…Now the S6 comes out and the battery can’t be replaced and you can’t extend the memory any more even if Android did let you make any practical use of it…why is the future always about taking away features and functions and replacing it with a pretty façade with no guts inside?
These are but a few of the responses from diehard Samsung consumers who were greatly disappointed with Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 edge announcement on Sunday. I wish I could record them all here, but a few must suffice.
First, let it be known that, as a committed Samsung fangirl for the last three years, I echo your sentiments. I too, cherished my removable battery and microSD card slot, and found that my microSD card was perfect for video recording and taking pictures. My camera sits on my microSD card in my Galaxy S5 currently, and I can’t imagine what kind of phone experience I’d have without my microSD card for memory storage expansion.
At the same time, however, while you and I are upset about these things (despite the opinions of some tech pundits who think we’ll “just get over it”), we must remember that the smartphone market is a competitive one. Things change, technology changes, what was once “in” ten years ago is “out” and obsolete today. Samsung’s wireless charging feature in the S6 and S6 edge, for example, is one way the company shows its commitment to stay on the cutting edge of technology and the progress of civilization.
Along with cutting-edge tech comes the need to stay ahead in this consumer-driven market.
Samsung fans, step back and think about it: have you heard the recent news about Japanese manufacturer Sony? Living here in America, I can tell you that Sony was once a household name. Memories of life in the 1990s and forward involve the Sony Walkman, headphones, camcorder, tape cassette player, CD player, digital camera, and so on. Now, look at where Sony is today: while Sony mobile division head Hiroki Totoki has denied rumors of Sony’s mobile division sale, the company finds itself promising one yearly refresh instead of two — and, with the onslaught of Android smartphones released by HTC, LG, and Samsung, Sony’s “one and done” annual approach to smartphone sales may not have any difference overall for Sony’s profit.
The largest problem with Sony is that the company did not market effectively and continued to provide the same of everything, year after year. This isn’t to say that Sony’s work didn’t resonate with its fan base; what it does say, however, is that what Sony’s fan base expected and what the majority of consumers expected were two different things.
Clinging to its familiar fan base was but one factor that brought Sony to its current state, and Samsung doesn’t want to follow Sony down the same path.
Another reality facing Samsung is that, worldwide, Apple’s market share has now dramatically increased, to the point that Apple has practically skyrocketed to the top of worldwide market share with its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales in Q4 2014. Of course, Apple’s iPhone 5C and iPhone 5s also round out the company’s sales (not just the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus alone), but Apple’s impact on the consumer base says a lot.
The impact Apple has on the consumer market has yet to be duplicated, in large part because of the number of manufacturers that exist on the Android platform (Motorola, LG, HTC, Samsung, Lenovo, and Xiaomi, among others). With Samsung competing against so many others for consumer cash (as opposed to Apple’s complete control over iOS), Samsung can’t continue to focus its efforts entirely on Android. In other words, Samsung’s most formidable rival is Apple, Inc. – and Samsung is Apple’s.
Samsung has been at the top of the Android world since 2012, and the company has only cemented its position over the last three years. But Apple remains as the company’s rival, and Samsung can’t just discount Apple and dismiss Apple as a weak opponent, even if the iPhone is nothing more than a basic smartphone that doesn’t inspire or excite Android consumers.
There have been only two dominant rivals in the smartphone market for some time, and Samsung is aware of this. At the same time, its profits are plummeting while Apple’s iPhones are selling faster than Cupertino can make them. What can Samsung do? Should the company choose to, like Sony, provide the same thing year over year while other manufacturers change designs and provide devices that, to use the words of tech enthusiasts, continue to “lag”? Should the company continue down the path of pleasing Android users and discount the views of iPhone users who take one glance at a Samsung smartphone and say, “I think I’ll get the iPhone 6 Plus”?
Samsung has a commitment to its customers, but to pay attention to its loyal fan base and ignore iPhone consumers would be detrimental to the company’s overall business strategy. In the smartphone business, you can’t cater to a small fan base, fail to reach the opposing fan base, and hope to expand and grow financially. That’s just not the way it is.
So, loyal Samsung fans, Samsung has thought long and hard about the changes to the Galaxy S line, and Sony probably played a motivating factor. If Samsung can’t reach the iPhone user and attempt to pull him or her away from Apple and iOS, then Samsung is another Sony waiting to happen.
A good company always sees the writing on the wall before it takes a step. Samsung, by this definition, is a good company. The sinking Titanic may have made for a nice cinema feature, but it doesn’t look too good on a company that has become the star of the Android world. With the launch of the Galaxy S 6 and S 6 edge, the company whose name means “three stars” looks to rise to prominence again.