Look back to the pre-Android era, and it’s hard to find a Samsung handset that was worth getting excited about. The average Tocco, with its clunky software and awkward touchscreen was hard to love.
And the Symbian-packing i8510 might have had a great camera, but lacked any kind of skills to give Apple’s then-dominant iPhone anything to fret about.
It’s all a far cry from late 2011, with Samsung today proudly blowing its own trumpet about the fact that it has shifted an impressive 10 million Galaxy S2s since launch in April.
What’s even more impressive is that its taken just two months to double sales. That could be down to Sammy’s marketing nous, but don’t discount the late arrival of a new iPhone, something which is bound to have caused casual smartphone owners to switch to Android.
So, how did Samsung get it so right? Especially considering its mobile phone business was hardly setting the world alight at the back end of the last decade?
It comes down largely to a full-scale adoption of Android, while developing hardware that is every bit as sharp as key rivals HTC and, some would say, Apple (Apple itself is currently arguing the initial Galaxy ripped off the iPhone, something Samsung is strongly battling in court).
Would Apple be fighting tooth and nail against Samsung if it didn’t think that it was the biggest threat to the iPhone’s cultural significance?
In making Android its own and allying it with sharp design, Samsung has emerged as the key contender in the battle to be the world’s biggest mobile-maker. But it’s more than simply adoption of the OS that’s driven its ascent.
While HTC’s Sense skin offers a huge redesign of the basic Android experience, Samsung’s TouchWiz interface is far more subtle.
This, allied with Samsung’s ability to swerve issues of fragmentation by releasing new software updates relatively quickly, means early adopters and tech fanatics are just as happy as those who want a sharp-looking smartphone at a decent price.
It also has much in common with other key challenger HTC, in that it doesn’t take an eternity to release phones after their initial announcement (well, in Europe at least). There’s no denying that this helps initial sales, as well as stopping any nagging doubts about devices growing into a storm of publicity.
Nokia has always failed on this count and Samsung has clearly been watching Espoo closely. The Finns failed as the iPhone’s number-one competitor and with ten million sales chalked-up, it’s now the Galaxy S2 that’s giving Apple something to think about.