Samsung Unpacked 2013: Ineptitude On Display, Not a New Flagship Phone

March 16, 2013 - Written By Randy Arrowood

I didn’t have the chance to see the Samsung Unpacked 2013 event live, and in real-time, I was busy doing something else. I was so busy in fact, I didn’t catch much of the reaction to the whole thing either. I saw a few mentions of stupidity, ignorance, disappointment and sexism on the Tweeter feed, but I wasn’t really moved to look into it.

Then I got an email from our Founder, CEO, Editor in Chief and all around Good Guy Chris, asking me to provide some feedback. I’ve now seen the entire 50 minute video and it leaves me with one big question: Samsung, WTF was that?

I’m not going to shoot at the easy targets here. I’m not going to flap about the plastic body, the dim screen, the visual similarity to every other phone named “Galaxy” or that stupid ass physical button. That would all be too easy.

Galaxy S4 Event Phone 2

I’m left wondering where the hell the phone was. Yeah, I know, it was on the big screen. But where were the actual live demos of all of these great new “S” features? You know what I’m talking about, right? Think back to the now famous Google demo of Face Unlock that was done live and in real-time, that didn’t actually “unlock” with the users face. That kind of a live demo. I’d rather see a live demo setback than edited video about how things might work, but then again, might not.

Instead of showing us how the phone and all of its new “S” features actually perform, we were treated to a circus sideshow of shitty comedy, shitty acting and shitty video taped demos of how things should work, but we have absolutely no idea of if they work.

Galaxy S4 Event 10

True, it’d be pretty hard to demo navigation apps in Radio City Music Hall, but think about the S Translate demo for a second. The demo phone should have been shown on the big screens in real-time translating the conversation. Say what you want, they didn’t mirror what was actually happening on the stage live and in real time. It was taped.

The same thing for the nifty demonstrations of the photo capabilities. Those were taped, edited and displayed as though you were seeing the actual scene on stage, but you weren’t. You didn’t see anything about how the device actually functioned, you saw what Samsung wanted you to see: an edited, perfectly functioning set of features on yet another plastic phone with a piss poor screen.

A few observations:

  1. We didn’t see a phone reveal on display Thursday night, we saw a C-List off-Broadway performance of a piss poor high school drama club production. It was all a smokescreen to disguise the fact that the S4 is really an updated version of the S3.
  2. With all of the S this and S that apps that are going to come crammed on this phone, there will absolutely be 60 bloatware apps pre-installed on this phone out of the box. Throw in the uninstallable shitware that carriers like Verizon will heap into the mix, and this thing might hit 75 apps that you can’t remove. All apps that likely will rarely ever be used by the majority of people who buy this phone.
  3. Another physical button? Seriously?
  4. That little Jeremy kid can apparently tap dance like a boss.
  5. Will Chase, whoever he is, set his career back in a serious way playing this “character”.
  6. Samsung Marketing guy Ryan Biden is as out-of-place on stage as I have ever seen a presenter be. He read his part just fine, but his scripted performance did little to express genuine enthusiasm for that thing that he wants you to go buy. Very bad choice on Samsung’s part for the key presenter for their new plastic flagship device with a big old fucking physical button on the front.
  7. I’d imagine that Samsung pretty well pissed off any female with even a glimmer of self-respect. Sammy did their level best to portray women as self-absorbed, narcissistic cougars that are consumed only with getting drunk and nailing the gardener behind the rose bushes.

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I’d like to say that I’m all done, but there’s one more point that has to be made: I told you so. By my count (and I’ll admit that my attention did wander from the audio a few times) I heard the word Android mentioned one time. Once. Alright, maybe it was twice. Whatever.

The S4 demo video not only showed you how Samsung wants you to think that the device will perform once it’s in your hand and you are locked into a new two-year contract with your carrier, it also displayed what is likely the last step for Samsung in its distancing of itself from Google and Android. There wasn’t a single thing about the look and feel of the device that had anything to do with Android. No mention or demonstration of any Google app or service. It was all about Samsung, S apps and Hubs. And people will swallow it whole.

Next year, when the Galaxy S5 videotaped and heavily edited reveal is done, you won’t even be able to tell that the underlying operating system is no longer Android, but is Tizen OS 3. And Samsung won’t even mention it. They won’t have to, because they’ve managed to marginalize the OS running on their devices to the point of irrelevance.

That was Quietly Brilliant. Uh…….