Samsung has been the most consistent of manufacturers this past 12 months. It has concentrated on doing what it does well, and not been sidetracked by the new competition in the space.
Samsung Mobile is a division in a huge Korean electronics firm, built to knock out devices swiftly and cheaply – and, when requirements dictate, with the kind of geek pyrotechnics the East loves as a matter of course.
Putting together the decade in review feature, Mobile News looked back briefly at the demise of Siemens. Its big issue was it could not turn around devices that were reliable and pitched right. And its parent, a huge manufacturing conglomerate, ultimately saw its mobile units as disposable. Motorola almost made the same decision last year, but hit upon Android as a new chance for its mobile division.
The Koreans Samsung and LG have not required such a resort yet, although both will produce Android handsets in volume next year – indeed, Samsung was pretty quick out of the blocks anyway with its Galaxy handset on O2.
But the point is Samsung, in particular, has been able to read the market well, and turn out devices that hit the mark and please customers: nice looking, well specified, well priced and reliable in relative terms.
Nokia has been caught by the rise of Apple and Android, and the surge of longer-term brand BlackBerry with them. Samsung appears by contrast to have watched, admittedly impressed, but not distracted in a way that has halted its innovation or production line.
For its oversights and errors have been few. Its BEAT DJ and Disc handsets came and went, the first Omnia was a let down (more because of the universally bad Windows Mobile 6.1 platform) and the initial F480 Tocco was overplayed.
But the Tocco line has been excellent for it, and the i8910 HD was a major step up on the original. And the Pixon devices have kept Samsung way ahead of lustrous new rivals for features at least, and the new Genio range represents a very neat mass-market option.
Most of its devices hit their marks most of the time, and few others are so consistent across a range. The new players are concerned with a few devices, and parts of the market, in comparison.
Its new Bada platform is intriguing, an open source Linux OS that is backed by a $2.7 million prize fund for developers. It will naturally be compared with Android, the iPhone OS and the BlackBerry platform next year.
And it’s odd, because Samsung genuinely hasn’t looked like it has cared much about deep software – the user interface and some software presentation tools are good to sit on a steady platform on a slick-looking handset.
Likely, Samsung is keeping its eye in with Bada. But the tools are there for it already, in its smart local marketing operations, its clever design centre in Seoul and its slick manufacturing operations. And Android.