Samsung has been saturating the airwaves with their commercials making fun of iPhone owners and touting their “S Beam” feature where data can be transferred between phones by touching them. Plenty has been said about how Samsung’s commercials may be offending their potential customers who currently own or want iPhones, so I won’t rehash that. Instead I’d like to point out how Samsung is touting certain features as new and exciting when they are actually worn-out relics from the past.
The commercial that is getting the most airplay shows two people transferring a “playlist” by touching their phones together. Seems simple enough and sort of a neat thing to do. Of course, the fine print shows that the S Beam feature must be configured ahead of time before the touching feature will work. Suddenly touching phones isn’t so easy anymore. Plus, the S Beam feature only works with other Samsung Galaxy S III phones. So it’s not likely that people will even get the opportunity to use it all that much. And let’s not get started on the unanswered security questions regarding NFC technology.
But even ignoring those deficiencies, the whole touching of phones idea just seems backwards to me. We live in the New World of Technology. These devices are phones, for crying out loud! We have virtually ubiquitous Internet access and a plethora of cloud services. The days of needing to physically transfer data went out with the floppy disk! We have far more need to transfer data when we’re apart than while in physical proximity of each other. It’s perfectly fine to have the S Beam option, but to tout it as some amazing new feature – “The Next Big Thing” – is ridiculous!
Similarly, Samsung is also running commercials for their Galaxy Note 10.1 showing off the use of a stylus as “The New Way”. Stylus use is a throwback to early tablets, PDAs, and smartphones. It’s hardly “The New Way”. In fact, consumers have pretty much eschewed the stylus as an unnecessary accessory, something that has to be kept track of and prone to loss. If Samsung is hinging the success of their product on the fact that it uses a stylus, they’d better find a “new way” themselves.
Now let’s talk about something that is actually important to mobile device owners. The Galaxy S III was released in late May and Google released Android operating system 4.1, Jelly Bean, on July 9th. Samsung must have (or should have) known that Google was preparing an OS release that would be available near the introduction of their new flagship phone. They should have been preparing to support Jelly Bean on the Galaxy S III the whole time. However, it wasn’t until October 17th that Samsung announced the Galaxy S III phones would receive the upgrade to Jelly Bean. It took over 3 months for Samsung to officially acknowledge that it would even offer an upgrade for its flagship phone – an upgrade that was made available by Google just 6 weeks after the phone was released. Even then, it was only an acknowledgement that the update would be available “in the coming months” and “the specific timing and update method will be announced by each carrier partner.” Whether this was due to some sort of technical complexity surrounding the Android upgrade process, or that Samsung simply didn’t prioritize this upgrade, it doesn’t speak well of Samsung. Either they are incompetent or lackadaisical … or both.
The bottom line is that Samsung Galaxy S III owners are still waiting for “The Next Big Thing” to arrive on their phones, possibly waiting a total of 6 months or more until Samsung and the carriers get around to releasing an Android OS upgrade.
I tend to think that the ability to bump phones is much less important than say:
- owning a phone that isn’t virtually obsolete the day it is purchased
- waiting over 3 months to know if it will stay obsolete
- waiting about 6 months after an upgrade is available to finally receive it
All this because it takes 3 different companies to coordinate the “specific timing and upgrade method” before an OS upgrade can be released. This is a major problem with the Android platform, but of course you never hear it mentioned in the slick Samsung ads. Compare this situation to Apple, where in just a little over a month of release, iOS 6 was installed on 200 million devices. Regardless of carrier, iOS device owners knew if their device was supported for an upgrade well ahead of time and those who could upgrade were able to do so on the first day of its release. It also appears not many customers care that none of those 200 millions devices came with a stylus, by the way.
So for all the chest-beating Samsung is doing on the airwaves about the little whiz-bang technical tricks their devices can do, they still don’t get the big picture. Phone bumping and styli are relics of the Old World of Technology and most people just don’t care, no matter how many commercials you run.