Over the last year, I've slammed Samsung for attempting to drag their slumping sales out of the mud with gimmicks and less-than-stellar products. Then the Galaxy 6 and 6S arrived and did the impossible. Within a span of a few months, Samsung has, once again, taken the lead in worldwide smartphone shipments. Q1 of 2015 saw a 21% growth in global smartphone shipments. Of that, Samsung shipped 24% (or 83.2 million devices). This was prior to the Galaxy 6/6S taking off into the stratosphere of popularity.
Outside of actual units shipped or sold, what Samsung really did was save the Galaxy line of smartphones from complete and utter failure. The trajectory of their flagship device had plummeted. The Galaxy 5 was hardly worthy of the "flagship" title and did its best to take down the electronics giant. Then, out of nowhere, with the release of a pair of devices, Samsung is breathing the rarified and transient air of success again.
After watching the trends and the ups and downs of the mobile market, it's become clear to me that the success of every manufacturer of mobile devices is guided by the fickle nature of consumers. Within a matter of moments, a user of Device A grows tired of what they have and wants something newer and shinier. Or Manufacturer X releases Device Y and it becomes the "Must Have" item at the moment.
"At the moment." That, my friends, is a key phrase that should be taken very seriously with regards to modern technology, consumerism, and the rise and fall of OEM success/failure. The shelf life of the "device du jour" is very short. One minute, everyone is fawning over the iPhone 6. All of a sudden, the Galaxy 6/6S is released and it's all "iPhone what?" Soon, HTC, Lenovo, or Motorola will release a device that everyone will want. Apple will retaliate by releasing the next iDevice, and heads will turn. The pattern continues, ad infinitum.
Better yet, Media Outlet X reports that Galaxy 6S sales take a bite out of Apple's pie and everyone runs with it. The new assumption is that Apple is tanking, thanks to Samsung. However, the truth of the matter is that a shiny new device was released, and people want it—in this case, the Galaxy 6/6S. Shiny and new always wins in electronics. Period.
Don't get me wrong, the 6S might well be the single most amazing smartphone on the market. Not only has Android Lollipop upped the ante of the platform, but the new Galaxy hardware is remarkable in ways no other (current) device can touch. Blink, and that will change. The HTC M9 could take off. The Sony Xperia Z4 could wind up being the device to have. The next iteration of the iPhone could dominate the market. On a whim, it could all change.
The thing is, people (consumers, media, etc.) get so easily caught up in the moment that any fad, rumor, or change in the landscape of taste could herald the rise or fall of Company X, Y, or Z. Samsung's latest Galaxy device proves that. My wife is a perfect example. The second she laid eyes on the curved screen of the Galaxy 6S, she wanted one. It didn't matter that her current Galaxy device served her perfectly. That curvy edge called to her as it has called to so many others. Now that it's in her hands, how long will it be before the next "it" device beckons her to "come buy."
The world of mobile electronics is at the mercy of the fickle nature of consumers. This will never change. As long as companies continue to pump out shiny new products, the whim of the buyer will sway the numbers in a game of back and forth. What does this tell us? The second Company X finds itself flailing about on the grand popularity index, it shouldn't knee jerk its way into failure. Like Samsung and plenty of companies before it (and clearly after it), their time in the spotlight will come and go... and come again, and go again. So, no one should be proclaiming Samsung as the King of mobility, just as Apple, HTC, Motorola, Lenovo, etc. cannot claim that title.
Even with all of that said, I have to give credit where credit is due. Samsung released something special with the Galaxy 6/6S—without relying on gimmicks—and lifted their brand back to the top of the heap. I was wrong, and I gladly admit it. Their flagship device has surpassed pretty much every smartphone currently available on the market.
At the moment.
It's only a matter of time before another device comes along and has us all wondering "How did the mighty Samsung fail us this time?"
What do you think? Are consumers growing too fickle? Has brand loyalty gone the way of Radio Shack? Or is the frequency of device release destroying all hopes of extended popularity for the likes of HTC, Samsung, and Motorola?
- Gimmicks will not bring Samsung back to powerhouse status
- Samsung Galaxy sales data following the S6 release
- Samsung's big power play is packed in a small chip
- Why Apple fan boys might want to hold the Samsung schadenfreude
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.