Would a Galaxy S4 failure be good for Android?

March 7, 2013
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We all know it’s coming. The Samsung Galaxy S4 event is right around the corner. The Galaxy faithful are chomping at the bit, while the rest of the world waits in curious anticipation. We’ve already told you how this could be nothing but a failed fireworks show, but what if it just falls flat? What implications does a failed Galaxy S4 have for Android? It could be good… but it could also be a disaster.

Why it would be bad

Failure is never an option, but this fervor surrounding the Galaxy S4 is perhaps too much to live up to. At this point, we expect it to make coffee for us in the morning. We want for too much, and expect even more. We need to slow down a bit to accept what the device is. We’re not doing ourselves, or Android, any favors by going wild with anticipation.

The S4 is still Android

As much as the Samsung fanboys drive some people nuts, the S4 is still going to be Android. The Galaxy S3 accounts for a huge portion of Android sales, and the S4 shows no sign of slowing that trend. Toss in the Note 2, and other Galaxy devices, and Samsung is a juggernaut. The Galaxy devices are the first Android handsets that people actually anticipate on a large scale, even more so than the Nexus line. All that desire for one line still leads back to Android, and that’s good for everyone.

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Market Share

With Samsung being such a large part of Android sales, that also means it comprises a huge portion of the worldwide market share Android dominates. If more people have Android, more developers will make cool apps. More movie studios and record companies will get media to the Play Store. More features will be added, and more awesome devices will be made. It’s a cyclical symbiosis, but an important one. Without a strong Galaxy device, it may be like taking a step back for Android.

Why it would be good

Samsung is pulling further away from Android all the time, so maybe a failed device would be a good thing. A big slice of humble pie may show Samsung how fortunate they are to have the success they enjoy with Android. Samsung is a big part of the current Android landscape, but they have a few other contenders willing to take their place.

Proprietary nonsense

All this S-Beam and S-Voice stuff is just S-illy. With Samsung making features available only on their devices, it closes the door slowly on what got them there. It’s a bit myopic to think the world operates on Samsung, or to make it an “us or Android” fight… and make no mistake, they are doing just that. Consumers are more often than not turned off by features that won’t work with other devices, meaning that course of action may end up backfiring.

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Identity theft

Galaxy is more searched for than Android, and it makes us wonder if Android is losing itself to the biggest partner it has. The Galaxy line is full of great devices, but they don’t define Android. It speaks more to a great marketing strategy than anything else, this search conundrum. I’m sure people search for “Kleenex” more than “facial tissue”, also. Consumers sometimes are unaware of the difference, though. Technology is a tricky thing for most people, so the concern is that “Android” will get lost in “Galaxy”. Our beloved OS is nothing to sneeze at, but Kleenex is.

Tizen

While Tizen, a new OS Samsung is heavily invested in, is targeted for the Asian market, it does show Samsung’s true desire. They want to move away from Android to start their own ecosystem and operating system. Tizen is the biggest indicator that, ever so slowly, Samsung wants to break away from Android. Samsung, in many ways, is a Trojan Horse inside of Android. Many believe Tizen is a bad idea, and Samsung should stick with Android. An S4 failure may show them just how important Android is, and how tough it can be to make it on their own.

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Conclusion

How do we define “failure” when it comes to the Galaxy S4? It’s a hard metric to gauge. On one hand, we expect an S3-like adoption, and the fawning over the device like we see with the Note 2. The other side of that equation is not so simple, though.

People may love their S3 or Note 2… but they’re probably under contract. Is the Galaxy S4 going to be so great people will want to break their contract to get one? Probably not. Over time, it will be the natural upgrade path for many, but it has some stiff competition. Excellent Android devices are released all the time, so standing out becomes much more difficult. Samsung is also pretty defiant about their product line, and that may turn some away from them.

Will it fail? That’s doubtful. It will be a very good device, and turn a lot of heads, but it could leave us all wanting. When you create such a frenzy, and there’s no blood in the water, the sharks will find another source of food. The biggest benefactor to a Galaxy S4 failure may just be all the other Android manufacturers.

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