Wow, things really do happen faster in the world of Samsung.
Apple enjoyed a good 15 years of ever-increasing buzz before it finally took a hit. Samsung’s buzz has suffered a wound in just a fraction of that time.
What a difference a launch can make.
Samsung was on a tremendous winning streak over the last year or so. It way outspent Apple on marketing, effectively hitting the company while it was down. It had a monster hit with the Galaxy S III. It was hailed by many as “the new leader in innovation.” And it was all set to be anointed the king of smartphones with an epic unveiling of the Galaxy S4 at Radio City Music Hall last week.
But the next day, there wasn’t a lot of anointing going on. In fact, Samsung was taking hits on several levels.
First was the event itself. Even the Samsung fans were cringing when it was over. It felt like a third-world version of the Oscars, with not-so-funny comedy and a generous helping of sexism tossed in for effect.
Anyone who thought Apple went overboard during product launches (magical! revolutionary!) had to do some serious recalibration.
The fact is, Apple’s buzz has always started with the product, not a PR scheme. It gets its devices into the hands of key reviewers. It’s the countless journalists, bloggers and commenters who actually generate the buzz — not Apple.
Somehow I doubt that Steve ever considered a symphony orchestra.
And then there is the Galaxy S4 itself.
Remember how Apple proved it was no longer an innovator by unveiling iPhone 5? All it had was a slightly bigger screen, faster processor, better camera and numerous software enhancements. What a disappointment.
So here comes the all-new Galaxy S4 — with a slightly bigger screen, faster processor, better camera and numerous software enhancements.
Good lord, can’t anyone innovate anymore?
In a way, this is all Apple’s fault. (Remember, everything is Apple’s fault.) Through a series of genuine revolutions, Apple taught us that new products are the jaw-droppers. Incremental improvements are for losers.
Unfortunately, most critics haven’t read the record correctly. It’s the 1.0 product that has always generated the real excitement. Subsequent versions offer up some cool features, but are rarely considered “revolutionary.”
Siri, Retina display, FaceTime … none of those things have ever matched the initial buzz of the original iPhone. That’s just life in the technology biz.
So when Samsung announced a major event to unveil an all-new killer version of the iPhone killer it was already selling by the ton, and does everything in its power to jack up the expectations — it was really just asking for trouble. At least when it comes to the buzz factor.
Welcome to the club, Samsung. Better get crackin’ on something truly revolutionary. I hear HTC has been nosing around about the availability of Radio City.