Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Can Samsung's success be attributed to Android's popularity?


Like every other Android fan I have also been in iPhone vs Android fights where I have gotten into heated arguments about the advantages of Android's open and cloud friendly architecture. But then I quickly understood that the advantages which I thought were great didn't even make sense for an average iPhone user. Eg How I could set Chrome browser as my default browser on Android and how on iPhone it cant be done. At that point the iPhone user asked me why would he use Chrome browser as he was happy with Safari. There has also been an instance when an iPhone power user in US told me that a research says Android users have low IQ. This made me think.

For normal computer users an Operating System is how they experience it. User Experience basically. In that case I think pure Android can only be experienced on a Nexus Device or any device with the Stock UI. Android on every other phone has the OEM's take on the user experience. Eg Samsung's Touch Wiz UI mimicks the iOS UI but lacks the simplicity of iOS or pure Android. It has more features, crapware, Samsung's own app store and major flaws in hardware design too. Similar issues with other OEMs.

People who are hardcore Android fans always try to get Nexus devices or the more adventurous ones go for some good phone locally available and manually install an experience (ROM) that's close to stock.

Who are real Android fans?

Real Android fans are actually geeks who are Google fans and power users of Google products. Their life runs on Google products, sync files and information on google cloud, use Chrome, develop on Google App Engine, active on Google+, follow and get super excited by Google I/O conference, appreciate and use Google Now. They follow tech blogs, read about new apps and try it out immediately. If its not yet available on Google Play, they side load it and use. As power users of Google products Android is the right choice for them to safely expect seamless usage and also support the above said use cases. As Nexus phones are designed by Google for pure Android experience, Nexus becomes the obvious choice for a real Android fan boy.

Who buy Samsung (or other) Android phones?

Mostly people who really don't know much about Android. They just need a fancy phone with better features (apps) than their old Nokia phone. They see a Samsung Android phone as poor man's iPhone. Most of them don't even have a Gmail id. They don't know Google Play exists. They haven't installed/updated an app in months. They are not online all the time and also switch off GPS to save battery. They use it predominantly to talk, SMS, Facebook, chat on WhatsApp, take 13 mp pictures and transfer it to their computer using blue tooth. I'm not kidding. For these users the next phone could be a Nokia Lumia. Of course there are exceptions in this group, but more about them later.

Why do Samsung phones sell like hot cakes?

The good thing about Samsung phones are they are not late to market. When they launch their flagship phone, viz S4, in US by the next month its available in countries like India. Also they have a phone with all kinds of hardware combinations at every price point which makes it easy for people to get access to smartphones. Whereas Google is not very gung ho about bringing Nexus devices to emerging markets like India. Its pretty funny coz Android sees a lot of adoption in India and other Asian countries than US, which is predominantly an iOS market. HTC One is apparently a great phone but its no where in sight in this part of the world. Its because of this reason Android fans who run out of patience by waiting for Nexus phones to come to their countries, go for Samsung/Other Android phones. The recent announcement of Samsung Galaxy S4 with stock Android will be a huge relief for Android fans who struggle to get their hands on pure Android.

Samsung allows everyone to own a cheaper iPhone. And that's why they are successful. Its not the love towards Android nor is it because of their eye tracking feature. That's why they think they can continue this success with their own OS also. If Apple comes out with a cheaper iPhone for the emerging markets, Samsung will definitely be in trouble.
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