At the start of the year, Samsung was a media darling.
It had surged past Apple as the world’s biggest smartphone seller. There were even some projections that it would pass Apple in smartphone profits.
Its big-screened smartphones were all the rage, and some pundits were even saying that Samsung was out-innovating Apple.
We’re 75% done with the year, and Samsung is not quite the media darling it once was.
Sales of Samsung’s products remain solid, but in terms of living up to the hype, Samsung has come up short.
The latest example of Samsung’s failure to truly innovate is the Galaxy Gear, its smart watch.
The New York Times’ David Pogue says in a video, “The design is inconsistent and frustrating.” In his written review he adds, “Nobody will buy this watch, and nobody should.”
The Galaxy Gear is bulky and useless. It needs a phone to be even moderately useful. But it only works with one phone, the Galaxy Note 3. (Samsung says it will eventually support other phones, but we’re sceptical.) Even with a phone, the Gear doesn’t make life better or easier. You’re stilll pulling out the phone constantly.
Samsung, for all of its smartphone sales, and smart marketing, is still seen as a copy-cat company. It waits for Apple to release a new gadget, or new software, then it quickly emulates the best features for its own products.
The Gear was Samsung’s opportunity to prove that it could be out front, and beat Apple. It was a chance to prove that it had a real grasp on what consumers want, and it could deliver innovative, leading technology.
Instead, according to the New York Times and other publications, the Gear is a dud.
Vlad Savov at The Verge summed up his review of the Gear saying, “Samsung describes it as a companion device, and the Gear is indeed chronically dependent on an umbilical link to another Samsung device, but it never left me feeling like it was a helpful companion. The notifications are Orwellian, the media controls are exiguous, and the app selection has no substance to underpin the hype. Samsung’s attempt to turn the Gear into a style icon is also unlikely to succeed, owing to the company’s indecision about its target demographic. Trying to please all tastes has resulted in a predictably charmless and soulless product.”
The Gear isn’t Samsung’s only critical flop this year, either.
The Galaxy S4, its flagship smartphone failed to impressive reviewers.
Walt Mossberg said of the phone that it had “especially weak” “gimmicky” software and that people in the market for an Android phone should, “carefully consider the more polished-looking, and quite capable, HTC One, rather than defaulting to the latest Samsung.”
Consumers didn’t take Mossberg’s advice. HTC is in a tailspin, and Samsung’s sales remain strong.
So, it’s not like Samsung is stumbling badly. But, in terms of the narrative that Samsung is a leading technology company that’s in the class of Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon… well, the Galaxy Gear won’t help.