Samsung Galaxy SIII event – taking a leaf, or three from Apple’s book

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to go to a product launch event, a Samsung Galaxy launch event. Thanks to being in the UK it meant I could help out the network sites a little, and experience the launch of the most hyped product outside of the Apple world. The Galaxy SIII was all set to be the next “iPhone killer” and possibly the phone that finally challenges Apple’s smartphone in the market place.

Now I know, many of you will jump on me for saying this, and I’m prepared for that. Read until the end before jumping on the hate wagon. But, once again, Samsung “slavishly” copied our favorite company. During the event S Voice was announced and billed as an intelligent “personal assistant”: sound familiar? Now, granted, Voice Actions for Android already exists, and by all accounts, is a decent service. It can link in with the most relevant services (maps, calendar, phone etc.). However, Samsung thought it best to create its own S Voice system that can wake your phone up, take a picture, and all the rest. Best of all, it responds, like Siri does.

Then, there was AllShare Cast, with AllShare Cast Hub. Think AirPlay and Apple TV, and your 99% there. Along with the highly specced phone, Sammy announced a few proprietary accessories that help achieve an ecosystem feel, where all the hardware is in tune with other bits of kit (C Pen, Flip Cover, Dongle). The Hub plugs in to a HDMI equipped TV or projector, and allows users to stream media content from their GSIII, in a very Samsungy way.

Sure, you may be thinking that’s only two small things. There’s more. Samsung also announced a service called “Scan and Match” which scans all your music, and matches it in the cloud. At this point I laughed in disbelief – out loud. Needless to say, I got some funny looks from the guys next to me, but I was genuinely stunned.

Now, before you get all hot under the collar about how all these services existed before Apple: I know. It’s not that these services are in existence that annoys me. I get that it’s part of the new age whereby all our content is held centrally in the cloud, and streaming to TV is something that all products will be doing too. It’s more to do with the fact that Samsung is trying to create its own hardware ecosystem based on proprietary accessories and exclusive services. They’re not open to everyone, and will not work between different manufacturer’s devices. It’s a Samsung-only club. Like Apple.

Sammy could easily have helped Google adapt, and grow the Voice Actions service. But instead, developed its own branded S Voice feature. They could have made the AllShare Cast a feature that’s compatible with other manufacturer’s equipment. Even the launch event – although highly charged, and much noisier than an Apple keynote – was formatted similar to one of Apple’s releases. They even had a “one more thing…” at the end to announce that Samsung was going to start selling these phones in Samsung PINs (bespoke mini-stores made of glass).

I can hear the Apple haters already: “At least Samsung doesn’t pretend like it invents technology that already exists, like Apple.” And that’s where you are entirely wrong. Along with the collection of Samsung accessories was a wireless charging unit. And these words came from the MC, Suzi Perry’s mouth “This is the first smartphone to have wireless charging built in to the device.” Perhaps, forgetting the Palm Pre range of phones, that all had TouchStone charging built in to the back cover?

Genuinely, I have no problem at all with the services and features that the SIII offers. It’s the direction all mobile technology is moving in. But, being Android’s biggest manufacturing partner, you’d assume that Samsung would adopt a more “open” mentality when it comes to the services available. Instead they’ve seen that Apple’s walled garden approach works – in terms of making lots of money – and are copying that approach. Making everything proprietary and pretending like they’re the first to think of it. At this point, it seems that with TouchWiz virtually covering any hint of Android-ness, and all these proprietary options, that Samsung could almost create its own operating system and move away from Google’s altogether. This is not a phone for Android fans. It’s a phone for Samsung fans.

The hypocrisy in this is sensational. Samsung’s ads are all anti-Apple “sheep”. They’re supposedly against the way that Cupertino draws huge interest and generates hype, and a loyal following. But, by creating all these services, and this Samsung-only ecosystem, it’s slowly becoming Apple. It is the iPhone-makers biggest competitor for a reason, and that will continue. Apple’s mentality, and approach to products works very well, and Sammy knows it. GSIII – Less innovation, and more adapting a few iPhone features and rebranding them. Time for a brief mention of the iPod Nano-like Pebble MP3 player? Perhaps not. The only thing they mentioned was that it existed. No demo, no details.

What are your thoughts on all these “new” features? Is it just me that sees the copying (since I’m an Apple fan) or is it something that’s obvious to everyone? Needless to say, I smell a lawsuit coming.

 

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  • JoshuaTewell

    A lot of the stuff is without a doubt in imitation of Apple, including the format of the presentation.  I think we can all agree that Apple’s Keynotes show a bit more experience.  What bothered me the most was the fact that you’re unveiling a new item in an English-Speaking country, and the only person who isn’t English as a Second Language is the Emcee, who doesn’t actually unveil anything.  The guy who first pulled out the phone couldn’t even say Galaxy (Galux), for crying out loud.  The whole time, though, I was screaming at my computer screen.  “My Palm Pre was designed to look like a pebble 3 years ago, you idiots!”  AND  “Touchstone was around 3 years ago, you douchebags!”
     
    You can’t fault a company for trying to build an ecosystem, since the lack of ecosystems is really the most obvious reason Android isn’t even bigger than it is.  Companies making COMPETING products tend to create “closed off” systems, but not in the Apple way.  Closed off in Android means your accessory or service might not work with another brand of phone.  Closed off in the Apple way means you can’t do much of anything to customize the look and feel of your device’s software (“Any color they want, as long as it’s black! LOLS!”  -Henry Ford  “Let them eat cake”  -Marie Antoinette, Pre-Decapitation).
     
    There were a few interesting “innovations”, though I can’t decide if any of them would be more than just fun to play with for a day or two.  Admit it.  Telling your phone to wake the hell up, and then it doing it, would make you feel like the master of your domain.  Furthermore, with face tracking (or some other voodoo like that), the screen stays on while you’re looking at it.  I absolutely hate having to tap the screen when it dims in 5, 15, or 30 seconds.  DirectCall could be useful in some situation, but I can see it also being more useful if better adapted.  For example, not having to hit dial to call the person whose details you are viewing VS remembering you need to call someone else during a text and putting the phone to your ear (a la iPhone) and simply saying “call this contact” or “call Jim” or something else.
     
    About proprietary accessories and services: There’s no guarantee at this point that you won’t be able to purchase an S-Voice App for a different phone some day, but much like Apple, they aren’t going to unveil a new feature or service and immediately allow you to use it on any other device.  They want people to buy the phone.  It’s kind of standard practice.  You introduce a new feature, and then you wait at LEAST a little while before you start making it available on others.  That’s not to say they’ll open it up, as most all companies are blood-thirsty pirates after me booty, but there’s always a chance.  Either way, even with the “proprietary accessories and exclusive services”, you’ve still got Android, and all the customizability that comes with it, running under the hood, but that might be your least favorite thing about it, right?  I just feel like this article was specifically written to ridicule, rather than inform, but I guess that’s what happens on an iOS site.  Regardless, keep the stories coming, as I always find them an interesting read.
     
    Lastly, how’s the One X treating you?  I’m interested to see continued feedback.  I’ve never owned an iOS or Android device before, but I’ll be upgrading to one in the next few months, and I’m looking for as many perspectives as possible.

  • SkyPira

    This is so stupid. Theyre not creating a Samsung ecosystem because they want copy apple but because they need some way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the android manufacturers. If they didn’t have any proprietary features and all their new services were free to all android users, there would be no need for anyone to specifically buy a Samsung, as opposed to an HTC. They are NOT creating a walled garden, they are making sure the credit for their new products are crediting them, not their competitor. Besides, the only thing thats open about the entire android market is just the software itself, nothing more.

  • SkyPira

    Secondly, they are NOT against the way apple builds hype and a large following. The reason why samsung calls applers “sheep” is due to the fact that many of them blindly buy apple products and insist they are the best, even when they haven’t even had an experience with an alternative. The sheep are the ones who do not make educated decisions about their purchases, and that’s the mindset samsung is attacking. There is nothing that is particularly apple-like that they are doing, in regards to the focus they are putting in their fans.

  • Lavi

    Hey Cam, all you can see is “Apple haters”…
    If someone points a better OS feature that one is for sure an “Apple hater”.  
     
    “Making everything proprietary and pretending like they’re the first to think of it” … you mean like your beloved company does?
    That makes me laugh.
     

  • jsyed55

    @TodaysiPhone Don’t you guys have anything else to say except insult samsung?

  • Tuliomesa82

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdlvr.it%2F1WmjHl&h=NAQHvjTnWAQGHUFjwGvbIDwHcz2_-iEu-DCR82rXTw5T2kA 
     
    a good reason why the S3 looks like it does
    And also i agree with some points, sammy could of helped improved some google products, but remember sammyy is a company and if it means helping the competition why do that? instead they can create their own versions which might be a major improvement. I’ve had conversations with siri and i get some good laughs because she can’t catch on what i say half the time. 
     
    But i agree, maybe a little bit of more innovation could help, but even so the phone may feel flimsy but it must be light as hell which imo is a good thing.

  • donnyc

    “Sammy could easily have helped Google adapt, and grow the Voice Actions service. But instead, developed its own branded S Voice feature. They could have made the AllShare Cast a feature that’s compatible with other manufacturer’s equipment……… you’d assume that Samsung would adopt a more “open” mentality when it comes to the services available”
     
    These statements make NO sense. Why the hell would Samsung spend a ton of money developing software to go on other manufacturers phones? ESPECIALLY in the Android realm where manufacturers have to differentiate their handsets in some way! Samsung wants to sell SAMSUNG phones, not other Android phones! These extras entice buyers to buy Samsung’s products instead of HTC’s, LG’s, or Motorola’s – THAT is why they didn’t make them “compatible with other manufacturer’s equipment”. 
     
    Gawd, this really shouldn’t need to be explained – or am I missing something here?

  • newoverhere

    and what when apple gets nfc onto the new iphone dubbed as “ipay”?? will you laugh out loud then also??

  • newoverhere

    i also remember how once you stated you wanted to see “features” not “specifications” in any non-apple device…well, here you do have it and still i see you complaining
    clearly samsung focused on user experience more than harware this time around

  • inf4m0us

    dude u know how to write an article showing apple all high and mighty!!
    if ur aple is so generous in spreading its technology to its competitors then why the hell it goes on firing law suits every now and then!! 
    u people dont care about the depth of the os, dont care about the hardware, dont care about the product till there is a apple written on it and always give loads of crap about fluidity and simplicity!!
     
    go play with your toys guys, before coming up and writting article about how samsung is copying apple and its ecosystem and how it should try and enhance google product(read ur article once again, samsung is a company not a charity business).

  • JoshuaTewell

     @newoverhere I know, right?  Eventually, Apple will incorporate wireless charging, a screen that stays on when it should, phone-to-phone transfers, LTE, and a host of other features that already exist on other devices, and these guys won’t be shunning them for shamelessly ripping other companies off, and in fact they’ll be lauded as the pioneers who came up with all these ideas themselves!  lol.

  • dusty1022

     @inf4m0us i hear ya, i think that everyone is all for their own beliefs.  think of it as religion, apple is their religion and samsung is another.  If you don’t like ours then we will shun you lol samsung is a great company.  apple is as well. i love apple more but don’t hate samsung.

  • yamigenshuku

     Samsung’s Keynote was a little more than inspired by Apple’s. But honestly, I don’t think they are so “slavishly copying” the almighty lord Apple’s marketing strategy because it “works” and Samsung cannot make money by any other means. Think of Sammy like Apple’s bitter ex(and vice versa), Sammy used to make goods for Apple and they had a decent deal, Sammy though it could get comfortable and maybe pull off an Apple inspired device since they were in a relationship (bad idea) and then they broke up. Bitter and hurt by Apple’s choices, any chance Sammy can get, Sammy will act a fool when they know Apple is looking and I’m quite sure both companies are making huge fun of each other as we speak.
     
     
    As for “iPhone Killers”, please, stop. We Android users are looking for the “Nexus” and “GSIII” killers, iOS doesn’t do what  Android does for us which is why we use Android in the first place so there would be no reason to “kill” something we don’t even use. And sure there are some hardcore fandroids out there who aren’t fans of good technology, but become a fanatic of a product itself. In most Android forums I’ve been on (including DroidDog) the only time Apple really comes to mind is when someone brings it up. Maybe I’ve been on more moderate blogs and sites, but really. To be honest, I’m looking into getting a Windows Phone again, not because Android is bad, but simply cause I like Nokia’s devices lol. Ease up people.
     

  • BigLama

    All i gotta say is. im an iphone hater. Ill admit that. and even what samsung did with trying its whole sammy ecosystem thing is like copying.
    HOWEVER, ever company has copied something in one way shape or form. NOTHING is ever truly invented nowadays.
    It just the way technology is. eventually companies will start having like features its only a matter of time. and at that point all hell wil break loose with lawsuits. its just the way the world runs.

  • anlm

    i don’t care.. they are stealing ideas from the iphone 4s which came out LAST year. Still waiting for the 6th generation iphone.