Samsung’s busy 2021 starts with CES and Galaxy S21 launch
An expanded foldables lineup. More 5G phones. Smarter gadgets. Computers, TVs, home appliances and a host of other devices. Maybe even lower prices. After a crazy 2020, this new year could be one of Samsung’s busiest yet.
To take advantage of the opportunity 2021 brings, the South Korean company needs to be bolder to regain its status as an innovation powerhouse, while also delivering on its promises to make consumers’ lives easier. That will start with Samsung’s Unpacked event at 7 a.m. PT on Thursday, where it will show off its new Galaxy S2 lineup.
Already, the company’s head of mobile has given a glimpse of what Samsung has in store. Tae-moon Roh, Samsung president and head of mobile communications, said in a mid-December blog post that his company will expand its foldables lineup and make the devices more “accessible,” likely a polite way to say cheaper. It also will put more emphasis on camera and video capabilities and bring features from its Galaxy Note devices, like S Pen support, to its upcoming Galaxy S21.
“We have never believed in a one-size-fits-all mobile experience, and we never will,” Roh said in the blog post. He added that Samsung is working on “revolutionary advancements” in 5G, artificial intelligence and the internet of things to reset the boundaries of what mobile can do and to let consumers “tailor their mobile experiences to fit their lives — not the other way around.”
If those topics sound familiar, it’s because Samsung largely targeted the same areas in 2020. Samsung was one of the first companies to dive into 5G and foldables, though those bets haven’t yet paid off. There aren’t enough compelling reasons for consumers to need one of the 20 5G phones Samsung has introduced, and its foldables are too expensive to sell in high numbers. Despite the millions Samsung’s sunk into AI, its devices aren’t much better at talking to each other or interacting with their owners. And though the coronavirus pandemic created the opportunity to put the smart home at the center of everyone’s life, Samsung has been slower than Google and Amazon to make the internet of things a reality. Even with four Unpacked mobile events — Samsung’s flashy product showcases — the company wasn’t top of mind for most consumers in 2020.
“Samsung was just forgotten for a lot of the time,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said. “It lost a little bit of that cool factor it used to have.”
In some ways, not being top of mind was good. Samsung didn’t have the problems of Huawei, which faces US sanctions and may soon run out of components for its phones, or the struggles of competing Chinese vendors dealing with the US trade war. Samsung was never called to testify before the US Congress, no phones exploded, it wasn’t the victim of a major hack, and it wasn’t criticized for failing to contain the spread of misinformation.
Still, Samsung’s lineup hasn’t created the buzz that tech products like Apple’s new 5G-enabled iPhone 12 devices have managed to generate. On Jan. 7, the company said its fourth-quarter results aren’t as strong as some Wall Street analysts expected. It earlier had warned that the fourth quarter would be weaker than the third as server customers bought fewer memory chips and as said tougher smartphone competition would hurt its results.
In 2021, Samsung will have to find a way to capture attention in a world that won’t look like the one when 2020 began. Samsung will get its first chance with an earlier-than-normal Unpacked event…Read more>>