After months of deliberation and murmurs, supposed leaks and rumours, the Samsung Galaxy SIV is finally here. It will replace the most popular Android device in history and many were expecting extraordinary things from the latest iteration of Samsung‘s flagship smartphone. Alas, even though there seems yet again to be many new features, just a glance at the phone will make anyone but the utmost experts say: “œThat‘s not the S4, that’s the SIII.“ But isn‘t this one of the Android and Samsung fanboys‘ biggest criticisms of Apple? Isn‘t it supposed to be a cardinal sin to give incremental upgrades?
Until the launch of the Galaxy S4, throughout the smartphone world it was widely agreed upon that only Apple could afford to launch only mildly refreshing devices from iteration to iteration. This is of course because of Apple‘s loyal customer following; Apple has never suffered a dip in sales or customer interest since the launch of the original iPhone in 2007.
Interestingly, the Galaxy S4 design is, almost to the dime, the Galaxy SIII‘s shell with a slightly larger screen. The device itself hasn‘t even grown, like its predecessors did with every new generation, just allowing a larger screen within a thinner bezel. Of course, the internals are a step forward, but not by a tremendous amount.
This is a dramatic change in strategy from Samsung. To utilize unaltered industrial design has been up until now an Apple-only trait. We all know that Apple employ, what I like to call, a GIVE and TAKE design cycle for its phones, which is characterized by the addition of “˜S‘ to a model name. They GIVE the market something fresh, exciting and new, like we saw from the iPhone 3G and 4, and then TAKE the best of that iteration and simply make slight changes, like the 3GS and 4S.
In my opinion, this would not work for most manufacturers. But Apple, and now Samsung, have a unique following and the combination of software, design appeal and consumer confidence to make it work. Samsung has been the massive Android success story and this is the reason why they might be able to make the give and take design cycle, where they put the industrial design on hold for a year without suffering for it, work for them as well. By following this cycle, they are moving ever closer to Apple‘s strategy, copying what has worked brilliantly for, until recently, the most valuable company in the world.