Samsung have endured a storm of press regarding their relative decline in the mobile market with many developing smartphone manufacturers touted as having caught up with Samsung on the device side of things, whilst capturing customers’ imagination and offering comparable devices for less. And we’ve seen Samsung seek to redress their situation with changes in management, structure and device portfolio numbers. Samsung have improved the design of a number of their products, including the metal build on their A-Series of devices and of course, we are now enjoying the run up to the release of their next flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy S6. The Galaxy S6 is reputed to have been designed from the ground up as a brand new smartphone plus we’ve rumors of a S6 Edge, featuring a flexible and curved glass. We’ll see what is revealed in March 2015, but meanwhile financial analysts’ opinions are divided about Samsung’s prospects in 2015.
One camp believes that 2015 will prove to be a difficult year for Samsung; their improved products may slow the decline in their market share and profits but will not stop it. And others, such as Jefferies & Co, believe that Samsung’s changes and technological lead will help the manufacture regain their luster. Analyst Sundeep Bajikar has written a report claiming that 2015 will be “the year of Samsung” and how the Korean giant offers “the high-end cure for Xiaomi.” The analyst believes that Samsung were unable to justify their high prices compared with Xiaomi’s more competitive offerings, but advances for 2015 should turn these tables.
What arrows does Samsung have to string its bow? Flexible screens and new generation 14nm processors, neither of which Xiaomi can claim to have yet. Only we’ve not seen these technologies used in any great way by Samsung yet as the Galaxy Note Edge was a limited production run device, and very expensive too. Jefferies believe that Samsung has a one to four-year technological lead over their competitors across several key areas, noticeable flexible organic LED technologies. Bendable screens, in other words.
I can’t help but feel that this misses the point that many in the industry have been saying. It’s great that Samsung will be introducing flexible displays and ultra-low power, high-performance processors built on a 14nm die size, but these devices are probably going to be extremely expensive. This is at a time when the Android market is predicting the average price of handsets to fall. Samsung’s metallic mid-range devices are almost as expensive as their high-end devices, but offer a significantly lesser specification and there’s a significant battery life penalty associated with that beautifully thin design. Perhaps Samsung are hoping to introduce 14nm processors across the board and so extend battery life, but currently their product lines are caught between a rock (premium quality, expensive Apple hardware) and a hard place (less premium quality, but significantly cheaper Android hardware). Relying on premium materials and fancy new generation processors is great for the high-end stuff, but the next billion devices is going to come from the bottom end of the market.
Perhaps I’m being harsh on Samsung? Their products are somewhere from mediocre to brilliant, witness the Galaxy Tab S line. But they’re expensive in a world where technology is rapidly becoming a commodity. I don’t see it. Let us know your comments in the usual way!