Blog Post

Hey Samsung: Aren’t there enough stars in the Galaxy?

Samsung expanded its smartphone lineup on Monday, announcing the Galaxy S Advance for various markets around the world. Next month, the new Android 2.3 (s GOOG) handset goes on sale first in Russia and then in the CIS (Commonwealth of International States), Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast and Southwest Asia, Latin America and China. The U.S. is noticeably absent from the list, but I doubt anyone here will care.

I looked at the specifications and images of the Galaxy S Advance and don’t see any compelling reason for the phone to be sold in the U.S. The same could be said for many other regions as well. Why? There is nothing new or innovative here in the Galaxy S Advance; it’s a slightly tweaked clone of the Galaxy S II, with a few lower-end components to keep the price down.

Here are the specs provided by Samsung: a dual-core 1 GHz processor, curved design, a 4-inch Super AMOLED display at 800 x 480 resolution, 14.4 Mbps HSPA connectivity, 5 megapixel rear camera, 1.3 megapixel front camera and Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. At least the name makes sense: It “advances” the hardware over the original Galaxy S but is inside a Galaxy S II body.

Perhaps I’m being overly harsh here, and I trust readers to keep me honest in the comments. Truth be told, I like Samsung products and have bought several; my daily phone and tablet are both made by Samsung. But those were unique products that truly advanced the  mobile device, not a franken-phone put together from spare parts lying around Samsung’s production facilities.

The easy argument against my way of thinking is to point out that by most measures, Samsung and Apple are racing neck and neck to be the overall smartphone sales leader. Samsung’s recent rise in smartphone sales is in many ways because it took a similar approach to Apple’s(s aapl): Build a solid flagship phone that can be tweaked for carriers, design your own chips, and flesh out the software ecosystem.

By constantly churning out Galaxy S clones, Samsung’s device portfolio is beginning to remind me of Nokia’s vast array of smartphones. And because of that, Samsung runs the risk of losing some of its brand status; as more Samsung handsets start to look alike, the star of the Galaxy could cease to burn brightly.

16 Responses to “Hey Samsung: Aren’t there enough stars in the Galaxy?”

  1. They are probably doing a mistake by offering and spoiling the consumer for choice.Reducing the horde will be beneficial to them(production problems) and the consumers (a small range to choose from). will they do this highly doubtful

  2. There is something to be said for the (usually) more affordable Galaxies – but I wonder if they’re ever going to overcome the perception that they’re just Apple knock-offs? Selling in the U.S. might help that, but it would be a long-term goal.

  3. Again its different here in asia, the phone everyone is talking about is the galaxy y-youth

    why- simple its the 1st phone this end available for just over $100 usd unlocked for prepaid market, on top of that one of the local networks here in philippines is offering one free with a plan as low as $8usd a month, with in network unlimited calls and text and out of network 250 texts per month, with a 30 mth sign up, theres a whole new set of customers with 1st time access to a smartphone, flying off the shelves down here

  4. Exactly like what you mentioned – it slowly turns out to be Nokia-like. While I appreciate the low, medium, and high-end Android devices from Samsung, but I start to feel that it is just way too much. Now when my friend asking me for a recommendation for a Samsung phone, I have already no idea where to start from. Y, W, S, S II, S Plus, S Advance etc. And seriously, these name doesn’t tell me what’s the difference between them without exploring their specs, which some of them are pretty close to each other. I have a Nexus S and I am pretty happy with it, but as a consumer, I think Apple is right to limit themselves with only a few models, so the consumer know what they can expect from the upgrade.

    Speaking about Samsung, I am also concern about the availability of their tablet. 7.7, 8.9, 10.1 and now 11.6? I am not too sure what’s next, seriously.

  5. Anonymous Guest

    “And because of that, Samsung runs the risk of losing some of its brand status; as more Samsung handsets start to look alike, the star of the Galaxy could cease to burn brightly.”

    Where was this attitude when Samsung announced their Galaxy branding program last year? Wouldn’t this phone be a Samsung Galaxy Y or Samsung Galaxy M?

    I have a hard time believing that Samsung will successfully pull of their Galaxy S, R, W, M, Y, plus/pro model differentiation to customers.

    • When the various Galaxy branding programs were launched, I said this:

      “But as nice as the new Galaxy S II is, the smartphone market isn’t a “one size fits all” universe. As Samsung customers transition from feature phones to smartphones, some will want hardware keyboards while others will prefer a lower-priced, but still capable handset. After two years of only narrowly travelling the Galaxy, it’s time for Samsung to shift gears and broaden its horizons.”

      I still believe that. But the Galaxy S Advance is just another member of the Galaxy S family. I don’t think Samsung needs all of these different designs within a family. A few for S, R, W, M and Y ought to do it without diluting the brand.

      • Anonymous Guest

        Why not make it simpler, and just call their premiere phone Galaxy S and then make a “good”, “better”, “best” distinction? Because the carriers are the customer, not the end user.

        Having a few for each of those models is what dilutes the brand. Why would you ever want to brand an “economical” version of your “flagship” product? Certainly, being “just another member of the Galaxy S family” while comparing it the original Galaxy S specs (which seems to be the case in the three articles I’ve seen covering this phone) just makes the Galaxy S name sound cheap.

        Thanks for the reply. I sincerely don’t understand Samsung’s brand strategy with their Galaxy line.

  6. rick gregory

    “Samsung’s recent rise in smartphone sales is in many ways because it took a similar approach to Apple’s:”

    No. No they haven’t. They’ve closely copied Apple’s design thinking but their approach to product mixes is the same old computer industry thinking… Built at every possible design point so you can say you have something in that niche. It’s a philosophy dominated by a lack of a clear product design viewpoint and one that’s based on fear – the fear that if they don’t offer something exactly like what a customer wants, that customer will be lost. Apple, on the other hand, considers a problem carefully, puts forth a deeply thought out product that fits that niche and if you like their solution, you’ll love it.

    Consider that Samsung makes the following:

    a 4″ phone
    a 4.3″ phone.
    a 4.65″ phone
    a 5.3″ tablet
    a 7.0″ tablet
    a 7.7″ tablet
    a 8.9″ tablet
    a 10.1″ tablet

    Apple makes:
    a 3.5″ phone
    a 3.5″ iPod Touch
    a 9.7″ tablet.

    The two approaches couldn’t BE more different.

    • More recently, yes, Rick; the approaches are very different. But Samsung started it’s smartphone rise with the Galaxy S, which is what I was alluding to. That was a single design with a few carrier tweaks that got Samsung back in the game. It appeared Samsung was going to do that with the Galaxy S II — both of these models were top sellers for the company — but I agree that now it’s getting out of hand and a differing strategy.

  7. Andre Goulet

    They are diluting their brand to the point that no phone is going to be coveted. I completely agree with you, Kevin. One of Apple’s tricks is to keep it simple, which has the net effect of making their products recognizable from 100′ away which, in turn, leads to status. It’s all subtle but well proven stuff.

  8. I love the Galaxy Nexus, but I don’t see anything wrong with them keeping their low end phones up to date with their latest design language (curved displays) and more up-to-date specs (768MB RAM, front-facing camera).

    To me a new low-end model is preferable to Apple’s strategy of telling you to just buy the old phone with it’s old hardware and design. Obviously this mattered more when the current phone was the iPhone 4 and old phone was the 3GS, but I think what Samsung is doing for these markets that probably going to be buying Galaxy Nexii makes sense.