I couldn’t sleep last night. I was really nervous and skeptical. Those feelings grew stronger up until the very moment that Samsung’s press event started today. I kept asking myself over and over again, “what if the Samsung Galaxy S III isn’t designed for humans?” I shuddered at the thought and took a deep breath. Finally, my prayers were answered. Samsung’s Galaxy S III device has been revealed and yes, it is designed for humans.
That was the talk of the keynote. Samsung shifted gears right before everyone’s eyes. Forget the spec; it’s dead. People want emotion in their products and Samsung gave it to them — er, or at least attempted to.
I am but one observer, but it seemed an awful lot like Samsung was trying to copy Apple’s emotional appeal that has given it such immense success over the years. Steve Jobs always put his heart and soul into every product that passed through the Cupertino headquarters and customers could sense it. It’s something that no other company in its field has been able to match. The problem with Samsung’s approach today was that it didn’t seem to understand what it means exactly to put emotion into products.
Let me keep this short: it does not mean to have them “designed for humans” or “inspired by nature.”
Cue the Android army to rush in to tell me I’m wrong and that the Galaxy S III is the best damn phone this universe has ever seen. Seize fire because I acknowledge it is a very good phone. I’m sure it’s going to sell very well in 2012 and give Samsung an added boost in the market. I’m really impressed with the 1.9MP front camera and its ability to shoot HD video. I wish other manufacturers including Apple got on board with this sooner. I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around the ‘designed for humans’ concept.
For starters, if this phone is designed for humans, why can’t I use it in one hand? I’ve seen the hands-on videos. It’s huge. One of the reasons why I like the smaller display on my iPhone is because I can hold it with four fingers behind it and use my thumb to touch any part of the screen. You can’t do that with the Galaxy S III, yet it’s “designed for humans.”
The Galaxy S III features a large 2100 mAh battery. This is nice, but this phone is introducing a lot of features that can suck all the juice out of that battery quickly. Plus, Samsung introduced not one, not two, but three different battery accessories today at the event to help the phone last longer. That’s never a good sign, yet it’s “designed for humans.”
Another marketing slogan for the GSIII is that it’s “inspired by nature.” It comes in two colors: pebble blue and marble white. Loesje De Vriese, head of Samsung Mobile marketing in Belgium, even made a point to say that it has nature-esque alert tones and sounds to delight you while using the phone and then followed up with the fact that it’s a bit bizarre. Samsung, if it’s bizarre, why the hell are you putting it into your products?
I’m also bit creeped out by the fact that this phone knows my every move, including when my eyes shut at night because the front facing camera watches you. This is one thing that keeps with the theme of being designed for humans, I suppose, but it seems like this is mainly a technology that you’ll use twice, brag about to friends three or four times, and then stop caring about it. Was it really that much of an effort to just hit the lock switch before going to bed or waiting an extra minute for the display to shut off on its own after you haven’t interacted with it? The amount of battery that eye tracker drains is probably more than what the display uses during the extra minute it’s left on.
The same goes for other features. S Beam is pretty cool for transferring files and what not, but it’s nothing new. It’s just expanding on a technology that already exists while slapping on the “designed for humans” marketing strategy. The feature that enables you to put the Galaxy S III up to your ear to automatically call the person you’re texting seems like a novelty too. You’ll use it a few times, show your friends how insanely awesome your new gadget is, and then it’s over. As for S Voice, well, I suppose I have to ask “is Samsung Siri-ous?”
That’s just it. Lots of gimmicky features are not what makes a product “designed for humans” in the way Samsung is using the phrase. The slogan feels like more of a marketing ploy to get users to think they can connect emotionally with a device that understands their needs instead of actually allowing them to do so. That is where Samsung fails to convey the genuine emotion Apple always integrates into its products.