Following all the news from Samsung’s Unpacked event, which launched the Galaxy Note9, Watch, Home and Spotify partnership, Globaldata's research director for Consumer Platforms and Devices, Avi Greengart, offered his views
“The new Galaxy Note9 has top-of-the-line specs along with extras like plentiful storage, a stylus that acts as a remote shutter button, and the ability to dock like a computer with just a single cable. Samsung is also getting more aggressive with battery capacity now that the Note7 recall debacle is well behind it.
“The Note9’s 4,000 mAh battery directly addresses a key consumer pain point – consumers buying a premium phone want to be able to use it all day long. However, the Note9’s improvements are iterative, and as consumers hold onto their phones longer, Samsung is having a hard time selling expensive phones that are not well differentiated from their predecessors. While some carriers are offering generous promotions at launch, the Note9 is certainly expensive, starting at US$999 (A$1499) for the 128GB version."
“Samsung’s Tizen-based watches already offered the best user interface on a smartwatch – the rotating bezel is intuitive to use. On the new Galaxy Watch, Samsung is adding to the utility with a daily briefing feature. The Galaxy Watch comes in two sizes, with or without cellular connectivity, but all variants are fairly thick to provide multi-day battery life. Samsung is betting that consumers prefer battery life over form factor; Apple has made the opposite design decision."
“Samsung is understandably concerned that it is missing out on a product category that combines consumer electronics, AI, and home automation – all areas where Samsung is making major investments. Amazon and Google are the leaders in smart speakers, with products starting as low as US$40 during frequent sales. Apple was late to the smart speaker category, and has focused primarily on audio – it integrates seamlessly with Apple Music, and it sounds incredibly good for its price and size.
“We do not know too much about the Galaxy Home – no pricing, availability, or detailed feature list was provided. At its Unpacked event, Samsung talked about improvements in Bixby, a new relationship with Spotify, and the fact that a SmartThings hub is built into the speaker. However, Samsung will have a tough time competing with Amazon or Google on AI capabilities, consumers do not fully understand the value proposition of SmartThings, and Apple and Sonos are already jockeying for position as the premium audio choice."
Samsung and Spotify
“Corporate partnerships like these often fail to bring the benefits they promise, so execution will be key. But at least on paper this looks good for everyone: Samsung gets access to compelling content it needs to make its devices more attractive. Spotify gets a hardware partner to hedge against Apple's vertical integration. Consumers get new features that tie various Samsung devices together while maximising the utility of Spotify.”
Time will tell how true Greengart's predictions end up being, although given Samsung didn't sell as many Galaxy S9 and S9+ models as it wanted to, Greengart is justified in his concerns, but now it is up to the marketplace as people vote with their hearts, minds and dollars.
Certainly, Samsung growing its ecosystem and adding the Spotify partnership helps it to fight back against Apple's superbly integrated ecosystem, as well as fighting back against Google, so the results over the next few months as the new products roll out will be fascinating to watch.