Since Samsung confirmed it will again unveil its new flagship Android Galaxy phone at its own grand event and not during a trade show, we’ve been hearing the same old comparisons between it and Apple’s tried and tested strategy for unveiling its new hardware. From WWDC keynotes to cozy, private gatherings held on its Cupertino campus, Apple is considered the master of the stage-managed launch event. But times have changed, and describing Samsung’s event as, “Apple-like” is no more true than calling the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy S4, “iPhone-like.” Samsung has taken Apple’s promotional strategy, spun it around, glammed it up, and made it more mainstream than ever.
There’s no denying Samsung took more than a few tips from Apple, and there’s also no denying it paid very close attention to the smartphones and tablets released by Apple to hone its trade. But instead of being the perennial copycat, Samsung has taken these traits and made them its own, albeit in an unsubtle way. It produces phones and tablets with just about every screen size you can imagine, held a flashy event in London for the Galaxy S3’s launch last year, and if the rumors are correct; will launch a 5-inch, 1080p smartphone with an eight-core processor and all sorts of sci-fi software features this Thursday.
By launching the Galaxy S4 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, where it can make full use of the giant billboards in Times Square to publicize its newly announced device, Samsung is taking the Apple-style private event to the extreme. Plus, perhaps more importantly, if that Galaxy S4 spec becomes reality, it’ll have also taken its hardware to the extreme, and when was the last time you felt Apple did the same thing with the iPhone?
Samsung brings its phone to the people
The thing is, a year or two ago, it wouldn’t have been worth Samsung spending all the time and effort on a Times Square launch event. It’s really only now that smartphones are mainstream enough for people not only to understand what’s so special, but to care enough to tune in.
That’s right, tune in. Samsung is live streaming its event on YouTube – something Apple would never do. While Apple has live streamed a few of its events in the past, they’ve been the exception to the rule. Yes, WWDC is a pay event, but Google managed to live stream its Google I/O keynote, so there’s really no excuse. The answer as to why it doesn’t bother is obvious: it fits perfectly with the image of exclusivity which Apple loves to propagate. It’s an image that’s getting a bit old. Samsung is showing it understands the industry’s shift into mainstream culture, and is moving with those times.
Stuffy, snobbish, closed launch events sum up Apple, while brash, glitzy gatherings broadcast across the world and projected onto gigantic billboards are quintessentially Samsung. It’s fully exploiting the mainstream appeal of the modern smartphone, and doing a far better job at it than Apple; a company which remains secretive and seemingly uninterested in interacting with its customers outside of a retail environment. Take, for example, Samsung Mobile’s Facebook page, with a, “Ready 4 the Show,” banner already in place, plus many images and videos about its product range. Over at Apple’s Facebook page (yes, there is one) it’s a ghost town.
Samsung has succeeded in giving itself a playful, engaging, and friendly personality. Now, its marketing team has cranked the dial on its hype machine to 11 ahead of the Galaxy S4 launch. It’s holding one of then most public launch events for any piece of consumer technology we can recall. If it’s as full-on as we expect, and the phone is as impressive as we hope, Samsung is well on its way to usurping Apple in another key area: as this year’s most recognizable brand name in top-end smartphones.