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The Galaxy S4 family: familiarity vs brand dilution

Samsung is looking to create a family of smartphones built upon the very popular Galaxy S4. But will this enhance or dilute its brand? Read on to find out.
May 19, 2013
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In 2012, Samsung began its familiarity strategy. It’s hard to miss a newer Samsung phone on the streets because they all have that definitive look. Plastic rounded body, usually in white, the devices were basically mini or maxi Galaxy S3 versions.

This design philosophy was then transferred to Samsung’s tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.

Samsung is able to churn out a lot of devices aimed at a lot of niche markets and then observes to see which can become hits. This is of course how the Galaxy Note range came to fruition, but now Samsung is taking its familiarity strategy one step further.

Galaxy S4 – the strategy continues

The Galaxy S4 already incorporates many similarities with its sibling, the Galaxy S3, both in physical design and software. This means that there was already a familiarity from the S3, or any Samsung smartphone from 2012 for that matter, and people would be more inclined to buy something they were already familiar with.

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This was extremely successful for Apple’s iPhone as the device became almost synonymous with the word smartphone. Of course now the market is much more different. However Android still has a brand recognition problem. Surveys have shown that the Galaxy brand is becoming more recognised than Android, and this could develop into a problem for Google. Are people buying Samsung smartphones for the Google services, or the Samsung Galaxy brand?

Galaxy S4 Mini – mini phone big plans

Samsung gets it, there are some people who are simply not inclined to learn hand gymnastics, or prefer a smaller phone for other reasons. So with the Galaxy S3 Mini, Samsung attempted to accommodate those people, with a smaller version of the extremely popular Galaxy S3.

Of course those in the know would remember that the Galaxy S3 Mini was merely a shadow of its big brother. But thanks to the familiarity and brand recognition it was a good seller. A good enough seller, it seems, that Samsung is interested in making a successor in the form of the Galaxy S4 Mini, or at least that’s what plenty of reports claim.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

What the Galaxy S4 Mini means is that Samsung sees a smaller form factor a big enough reason for people to choose a particular smartphone model, even if they have to skip out on the latest and greatest specs. That allows Samsung to leverage the S4 brand and enables it to sell a lot more smartphones than it normally could have, had it blessed the S4 Mini with a name like Galaxy Pop, for example.

This leaves Samsung prone to its strategy backfiring, if Samsung is serious about the smaller form factor, why doesn’t it invest enough money to make the S4 Mini a legitimate competitor to the iPhone 5? That way Samsung could control all three points of the smartphone market in a three pronged attack. The Galaxy S4 Mini for the smaller form factor, the Galaxy S4 for the middlers, and the Galaxy Note 3 towering above the rest.

Unfortunately if the rumored specs are anything to go by, the Galaxy S4 Mini will be nothing but a mid-range phone with a famous name.

A smartphone with a great camera, there’s an S4 for that

The S4 is no longer a single smartphone it seems, it’s a legion of handsets to cover your every need. So if you want to dump your DSLR, but simply aren’t satisfied with the pictures that smartphones produce, you should know that Samsung reportedly plans on introducing a variant of the S4 to please those who take pride in the pictures they take.

Not a lot is known about the Galaxy S4 Zoom, but it is rumored to include a 16-megapixel camera with optical zoom. Whether or not the camera will be good enough to make people get rid of their DSLRs, is a question that is yet to be answered. Although, a purported photograph taken with the Galaxy S4 Zoom has made its way to the Internet and is down below for you to behold.

samsung galaxy s4 zoom

A tweaker not a tweeter, there’s an S4 for that

The Galaxy S4 Google Edition certainly raised eyebrows, and in some circles clouded the definition of a Nexus device. Samsung’s sales philosophy is very different to Apple’s. Whereas Apple believes in gaining the maximum profit out of its products and therefore only makes high-end devices, Samsung makes a range of products, spanning almost every nook and cranny of the smartphone market.

A sale is a sale, no matter where it comes from. Of course the Galaxy S4 Google Edition isn’t being sold at near cost like other Nexus devices. This version of the S4 is being sold at an eye watering $649, so Samsung isn’t sacrificing profits here either.

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Whether the S4 Google Edition is merely a peace offering to Google, or not, Samsung further strengthens its brand appeal and flexibility with a stock Android-running Galaxy S4, appealing to a market that would normally not be interested in a TouchWiz version of the S4.

Spend more time on the high seas than the high streets of Manhattan, there’s an S4 for that

The Sony Xperia Z might have attracted Samsung’s attention enough, for the company to contemplate creating an S4 that was water and dustproof as well. Heavy duty smartphones are far from what you call sexy, they are often slow, underpowered, low-specced and wouldn’t exactly win a Miss Universe contest anytime soon.

The Xperia Z changed it all, however with its back and front adorned with glass, it’s far from what we call “heavy duty.” Samsung recognised the appeal of a high-end device that could take a beating and has since been rumored to have begun developing a version of the S4 that was more ruggedized, dubbed the Galaxy S4 Active.

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The Galaxy S4 Active is rumored to keep most of the original S4’s specifications, but to have a slightly downgraded processor. So if you wanted to pick up an S4, but simply wasn’t sure that it could take a beating, Samsung wants you to rest assured, a smartphone with you in mind is coming your way.

Wrap up

Samsung has world domination in mind, and the Galaxy S brand seems like the perfect way to leverage Samsung into the forefront of technology. But Samsung’s plan on creating a legion of S4 versions to conquer the world could backfire horrendously.

The S4 Mini’s rumoured specs aren’t exactly to die for, and the Galaxy S4 Zoom’s camera could turn out to be a flop. Even the Google Edition of the S4 with its high price and limited audience could fail, leaving customers with a bad taste in their mouths, and we all know keeping customers happy is a major part of business 101.

Do you think Samsung is doing the right thing including many smartphones in the same high-end Galaxy S4 brand? Or is this simply hurting Samsung’s image? Do you plan on picking up any of the many editions of the Galaxy S4?