Samsung may well be Samsunk!

I was reading with interest recently that Samsung Electronics has taken the wraps off a new, larger version of its popular iPad rival, the Galaxy Tab. The Australian Financial Review was suggesting that many see it as the biggest challenge yet to Apple’s dominance in tablet computers. It was this comment that really got my attention, because it was suggesting to me that for the Galaxy Tab to be competitive it must have some real ‘functional smarts’ about it.

So I read on, to get a sense of it. Slightly slimmer and lighter, dual surround sound speakers and bigger screen. Throw in the fact that is is likely to be the first tablet in Australia to run the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, Honeycomb – all suggesting the product was loaded with valuable functional attributes.

There was lots of other seemingly exciting features and then the big downer! The one little fact that totally destroyed any sense of needing to ever purchase one. That being, that it will only be available through the Vodafone network. Speak to any one using Vodafone’s network, and you will find a seriously underwhelmed customer. Even Vodafone’s own CEO, Nigel Dews has come out an apologised to customers for letting them down. Amongst other things he said: ‘The issues some customers have experienced include dropped calls, delayed SMS and voicemails, slow data speeds, inconsistent coverage, and long wait calls when you call us. We are truly sorry for this.’ (The Age February 23, 2011).

If a brand wishes to take on the might of a brand like Apple, it needs to be an absolute winner on all the functional dimensions, because it will always struggle on the emotional, image charged attributes. Apple is so strong on emotional attributes with such cool aesthetics and image, that competitors need to have a far, far superior functional offering to make customers even contemplate a different brand. It is also a great reminder that many brands depend on partners within their value chain to play an important role. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Vodafone as its network partner in Australia essentially destroys a big hunk of the consumer value proposition. Finally as a case study, the global alignment of Samsung Electronics and Vodafone means that little outpost markets like Australia can suffer when the partner, in this case Vodafone, struggles. There is very little the team in Samsung’s Australian business can do. It simply means that poor 3G network coverage through Vodafone delivers a real Samsunk.

Peter Singline
Brand Scientist


  1. Great post Peter. It seems like Samsung have put a lot of thought into this device, only to be let down by their network. Part of me thinks, what a shame for Samsung, but the other part of me thinks that even if they did have a good network to buddy up with, would they really be able to build a product as good as Apples? It seems to me that Samsung has essentially built an ipad with a few new features. I far cry from re-inventing the personal computer experience.

  2. Some good points

    As has been shown time and again, you can’t compete with Apple by just having a me-too offer.
    It either needs the same abilities at a cheaper price or obviously better for a similar price.

    To hobble an already inferior product on a poor network is jus crazy

  3. The the whole user experience needs to be stream lined end to end, thats what makes Apple so good. It is easy. It is disappointing to see Samsung dropping the ball when it comes to using the ‘added’ features on the Vodafone network.

  4. This device will be unlockable and be able to be used on any other network – it will be purchaseable outright too. If you figure in the fact that something like 70% – 80% of iPad sales are bought outright on no 3G dataplan then this is not a huge deal for Samsung in my opinion – it will hurt them a little bit for sure – but the product is superior in almost every way that matters.It’s great for competition. I’ll be interested to see if they go with another carrier for the Galaxy Tab 8.9 (smaller model).

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