If all the hints and info from CES are to be believed, Samsung is going to release the Galaxy S4 phone in the next couple months. According to the Wall Street Journal, we’re seeing iPhone-like hype about the Galaxy S4. Here’s the question, is the interest we’re reading about true interest or just hype from the tech journalist echo chamber?
First off this isn’t about whether or not Samsung makes great devices. The Galaxy S3 is a great phone. The screen looks awesome and the responsiveness—when I was able to try a friend’s S3—is fantastic. The S3 isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a second class device.
This also isn’t about iOS vs Android. While many folks feel that Apple isn’t innovating enough with iOS and Android is doing all the great stuff, I think Apple is really letting Android be the vanguard in the feature world. The vanguard hits the battle first and take heavy casualties, the folks left standing are the strongest. So, you let Android developers test out new ideas and Apple can see what works and what doesn’t—then refine and improve on the idea.
What I’m really wondering, and I don’t have an answer yet, is whether we’re really seeing well deserved interest in what the S4 will be like or are the WSJ and other publications hopping on an “Apple is old news” bandwagon. An article this week in the WSJ claims iPhone-like hype for the S4, which given the dual quad core processors and full HD screen (rumored) that the S4 is supposed to have, isn’t surprising. However, the WSJ also was first (and possibly mistakenly) to claim reductions in iPhone 5 parts orders were a sign of weakening iPhone 5 demand. Funny thing is, that later in the same week consumer and market data showed no decrease in demand for the iPhone 5. Explanation: better production efficiencies and adjusting for a pre-launch build up. One could draw the conclusion that the WSJ was biased against Apple, which would be ironic considering how much Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD likes Apple products and the rapport Mossberg and Apple have built over the years.
Having been on the inside of the tech blogosphere for almost a decade now, I know how things get. A company is hot and we all cover it. A company is perceived by a few influencers and being on a downslide and we all cover that too. But once and a while someone sticks their neck out and says “Hey, maybe things aren’t as good/bad as we thought…” Sometimes the words fall on deaf ears, sometimes not. What I think we’re seeing right now is that Samsung had some great stuff to show at CES. Samsung is on people’s mind. They have, without a doubt, cool innovations in the pipeline (curved and flexible screens? Heck yeah) that I look forward to seeing in production products.
Apple? Apple doesn’t do CES. Apple is also so secretive that they make the Soviet-era Kremlin look like a bunch of chatty teenagers. So getting something real from Apple we can sink our teeth into for what the next iteration of the iPhone will be like is like smoke through our fingers. So while Apple, by all accounts is still doing very well on the business front, wasn’t just showing off cool tech to tech journalists.
Tech journalists are like toddlers—apologies to my colleagues—we like the new shiny thing that is top of mind. Then we read what the other toddlers in our play group (aka the other sites and feeds we follow) are talking about and we think everyone is talking about it.
The reality is that we too often a circular and insular view of the world (aka echo chamber), that it’s hard to gain true perspective on what is really going on.
So, is the Galaxy S4 going to be an exciting device when it is announced?
Certainly. No doubt in my mind at all.
Is the S4 going to set a standard for other handsets to meet or exceed?
Will the tech press say Apple is doomed when the S4 is announced and that the iPhone is a tired, old device that no one wants?
Will they be saying the exact opposite when the next iPhone comes out?
Probably so again.
Bottom line: until the next generation devices are both out and available to review, it’s too early to count either company out or either company as the winner…yet.