Opinion

With two weeks to go, Samsung’s Unpacked is already dead on arrival

It’s unfortunate that I’m having to write this again merely six months after raising similar concerns prior to the Unpacked event for the Galaxy Note 10. It just goes to show that Samsung has not taken any concrete steps to address the issue.

Rumors and leaks are a part of the never-ending tech news cycle. It’s also not entirely possible to put a lid on everything given the massive scale of the entire supply chain for these devices. Even if Samsung can ensure that nothing gets out from its facilities or that its employees don’t say a word about an unreleased device, it can do little to control what leaks from its suppliers’ factories, or what carrier executives who are briefed on new devices choose to reveal anonymously.

What it can do is control what multimedia content is sent to partners ahead of a flagship launch. If that were the case, we wouldn’t get to see high-resolution press renders of new devices weeks before they’re supposed to be unveiled at Unpacked. The consequence of this is that the element of surprise is taken away from Samsung. Anything that it shows off for the “first time” during its press event evokes a solid meh from the crowd and those watching at home because they’ve already seen it. This is the age of information. People consume more content online than ever before. Even those who don’t read news blogs will end up seeing a clickbaity YouTube video that rehashes the same stuff in a more entertaining format.

There used to be a time when people were actually excited about these product launch events. You would get to see products that you had only heard conflicting rumors about and hear all of their details straight from the company that made them. That has no longer been the case over the past few years. Not only high-resolution renders, but even entire spec sheets of new flagships have also leaked online weeks before launch. This has already happened for the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, Galaxy 20 Ultra and even the Galaxy Z Flip. What that means is there’s nothing to look forward to at Unpacked.

This was expected for the Galaxy S20 series but not for the new foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip. Remember the level of secrecy surrounding the original Galaxy Fold launch? Not a single render of that device was leaked online and many of the details were kept under wraps as well. That demonstrated that Samsung can indeed put a stop to this if it wanted to. The expectation was that at least the Galaxy Z Flip would get the same treatment. Clearly it didn’t as everything about the new foldable phone was laid bare yesterday.

These leaks stem from the renders and materials that Samsung shares with its partners around the world ahead of the official launch. Once Samsung sends them out, it can’t really do much to control their exposure. It normally takes a few days before these images and details start leaking online. Most of the leaks that appear on Twitter largely originate from the same few sources, meaning that it’s also relatively easy for Samsung to prevent them from leaking in the first place.

This is obviously a business decision on Samsung’s part. It has to equip its partners with all of the materials so that they can begin selling its devices right out the gate. The unintended consequence of that is there’s no excitement for its events anymore. People already get to form their opinions about these devices based on everything that leaks out, thus making it more challenging for Samsung to own the narrative.

There has to be a better way to manage this, one that ensures secrecy while also enabling Samsung to fulfill its commitments to its partners. Until it does that, there will be little reason to look forward to its Unpacked events anymore, which are a tremendous exercise in logistics not just for Samsung but for all media outlets that attend them.

I have attended all Unpacked events ever since I started SamMobile, partly because of work and largely because as a fan it gave me great pleasure to see new devices being unveiled up close. Despite making all travel arrangements weeks in advance, I have now decided to skip the February 11 Unpacked, because with a full two weeks to go the event is already dead on arrival.

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JSH1973
JSH1973

I’m still looking forward to it no matter what leaks we have seen already to be honest

PainfullyCandid
PainfullyCandid

This is a silly article. The average consumer doesn’t follow the kinds of sites where this information is typically found. It’s the enthusiasts. And, even so, every little detail of a device could get leaked, but it’s not the same as holding one in your hand, playing with it to get and give your first impressions (as is typically a big part of these kinds of events). It’s not the same thing as seeing the device demonstrated. As a consumer, I don’t care about the leaks. I read them and learn what I can. It’s never the whole story. So,… Read more »

Gunter2
Gunter2

You are totally right. The leaks are on purpose of course, to encourage enthusiasts to be ready to hit that buy button on launch date. You are also correct that 99.9% of people never watch tech Youtube channels or read articles like this on leaks. Between the S phones and flip phones they’ll probably sell at least 80 to 100 million phones. How many people are even commenting here? 7 or 8 maybe? . Add up the Samsung S20 views of all the most popular Youtubers and it probably won’t even hit half a million views in total. We have… Read more »

ianmacd
ianmacd

Agreed.

So-called “leaks” create a buzz amongst enthusiasts weeks or months in advance of the actual unveiling. They’re not leaks, merely part and parcel of a carefully coordinated marketing strategy. It’s naive to believe otherwise.

keepitsimple1
keepitsimple1

Dead or not unpacked will still occur.

london2tim
london2tim

they’re leaked with samsung approval i am still holding my breath for something new/exciting at the unpacked event…so far is all rumours and we’ve seen some of them are not probably real – eg the arrangement of the s20 ultra camera, or which camera specs each phone will get i think there will be some surprises left in store for tue 11th….i think the only negative effect is that some people might not bother watching it but element of surprise is still there the best thing Samsung can do is release fake rumours and then surprise everyone at the event… Read more »

Gunter2
Gunter2

Lol. Talk about being dramatic! Along with Apples event, Samsungs unpacked is the most watched tech release show in existence. ALL the leaks are orchestrated by Samsung to build up the marketing hype. It’s free advertising! If companies like Samsung and Apple actually wanted to keep a lid on things it would. 1. Nobody, as far as we know, has ever been fired by Samsung or Apple for leaking. 2. If companies really want to keep things secret they can, we only have to look at the Galaxy fold for that. These leaks of new devices and specs just get… Read more »

Biransahin
Biransahin

Yes, you are right. People want to be ready to buy on the day. All other mobile companies do exactly the same thing. Everything is known before the release date. We also do the same thing. Every equipment manufacturer in every line of business does it. I like cars, it’s a hobby of mine and all details of the newest Audi or Mercedes etc, is leaked in car magazines before they come out.

o0MHJ0o
o0MHJ0o

I disagree with half of what you’re saying. What these leaks are, they’re ALL HARDWARE. How can anyone be surprised by hardware of devices – yeah, colour options and how the device looks is a big deal. But I feel, especially since the S6 generation, that software is an even bigger selling point – and that is tough to leak.
Like, I don’t remember anyone leaking AR Doodle for the Note10+ which was pretty cool! Or the Instagram mode in the camera app? They’re more exciting things to unveil than jus hardware at Unpacked.

fb2466375479
fb2466375479

I agree with you. Although the S20 Ultra’s camera setup was leaked, I still look forward to seeing how Samsung make it not just a premium camera, but a reimagined experience (like S9+) ๐Ÿ˜€ .

henklbr
henklbr

Samsung should put “invisible watermarks” to the renders they sent out: then they’ll know exactly who leaked those renders…