Featured: Hey Samsung, creating ecosystems is harder than it looks

May 5, 2012 - Written By Randy Arrowood

Well, it looks like I touched a nerve with my story about the letdown that the SGS3 was to me. That’s a very good thing though. I’ve never been one that appreciates Samsung devices because they look a little too iPhone like for me, but I can understand why millions of people want them.

We also ran a story last night about the software angle to the SGS3 introduction, explaining that we are on the cusp of a full-blown Samsung ecosystem. Nothing at all could be further from the truth, but rather than arguing semantics about what a mobile ecosystem is or is not, I’m going to look at the different aspects of the Samsung software offering. There are things to like, but there are also a lot of gotchas in what Sammy is going to offer with G3.

S-Voice: It’s unfortunate that Sammy chose the name that they did because the iOS hipsters are all over the assumed Siri influence in the naming of the product. That aside, Samsung is getting an awful lot of credit in the blogosphere for an application that nobody knows will actually work.

Siri from Apple was and still is a groundbreaking concept in voice services, but it is far from perfect. Voice services are hard and people are suing Apple because Siri just doesn’t work the way that it is advertised to work.

Given that Apple built a data center in North Carolina that is bigger than some small towns to handle Siri and other iCloud features, how does Sammy intend to deal with the server side requirements of S-Voice? Did they build a data center of their own under cloak of darkness or will they use hosted solutions?

Will S-Voice understand what you are asking for? If S-Voice understands what you are saying, will it be able to deliver the results that you are looking for? Those are two of the complaints in the lawsuits against Apple over Siri. Has Samsung figured the whole thing out?

I have my opinion, but we’ll see what happens when the rubber meets the road.

Music Hub: I’m a music lover and my musical tastes have been described as schizophrenic by more than a few people. I subscribe to both Pandora and Rdio, so I have no issue at all with a subscription music service. None. I’m all for the idea of paying money to have legal access to music.

Now that my disclosure is out of the way, why would I be drawn to Music Hub as an SGS3 owner? Forget the fact that at $12.99 for access on more than one device it is the most expensive streaming service in the US. Why would I want to pay more money for a service that current or past users really don’t seem to like?

If you subscribe to Music Hub and you want to access your Music Hub service from your computer or Samsung mobile device you’re all set. What happens if you go off of the reservation and buy a phone or tablet that isn’t from Samsung? Yep, you guessed it. You’re out of luck there, but you can also forget about streaming on your Sonos system or your Roku using Music Hub like you can with Pandora, MOG, Rdio and others.

I’m not convinced that Samsung Music Hub will be much of a hit.

Video Hub: Like Music Hub before it, Video Hub is tied to your Samsung devices, but for now you won’t be able to use it on your computer. That’s it. New phone, tablet or TV that isn’t a Samsung? You need another service like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Google Play Videos, Vudu or Amazon Video on Demand.

Also like Music Hub before it, Video Hub will be one of the most expensive ways to watch TV shows, though movie rental prices seem fair enough. You won’t be able to stream to your Roku or Boxee box, and you can absolutely forget about your Transformer Prime or you HTC One X. Your options to use Video Hub are indeed quite limited.

Game Hub: I’m not even really sure what this is supposed to be. Is this just another place to buy games, or is there a more social aspect to Game Hub that I’m missing? Engadget was at the Samsung event and it seems like they couldn’t really see the benefit either.

People love to play games on their devices, but is Game Hub actually going to be a selling feature when the people that were actually at the event using the app couldn’t see the benefit?

Readers Hub: Wait, yet another place to buy books? Perfect.

If you listen to those that want you to believe that the SGS3 event wasn’t as much about the phone as it was the emergence of the Samsung ecosystem, well, the software was a flop too.

What Samsung has done is create four new stores to buy content from. Not a single, integrated store like Google Play, that would be too easy. No, if you want to buy a Samsung device and use their content stores you’re going to have to use four separate apps to access them. Just like Apple does with iOS.

Samsung isn’t creating an ecosystem, they created a way to wall their own customers off from the Google experience like Amazon has with the Kindle Fire. Amazon was wildly successful for a short while with Fire, but it looks like the train has jumped the tracks.

Where is this newly born Samsung ecosystem headed? See that ditch over there?