Samsung’s mixed tidings in the smartphone market over the last 12 months might just mark a changing of the guard among the industry’s powerhouses. Or at least that’s how a lot of tech fans see it, anyway.
Until the much lambasted launch event for the Galaxy S4, Samsung’s rise and rise seemed inexorable. But that tech-does-Broadway PR abomination seemed to be a cue for a series of reverses for the phone-maker during the rest of the year.
Not least among these was the smattering of tepid reviews for the S4, with criticism focusing on fussy UI customisations and the phone’s plastic shell that many felt was inferior to the HTC One’s premium aluminium unibody construction.
The disappointing reaction in the tech press was followed by reports of weak sales for said flagship phone and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch. All of which, we should mention, Samsung has subsequently disputed.
Conversely, the likes of Sony’s Xperia Z and Z1 hit the market and proved to be Sony’s best received handsets for years. LG G2’s was also widely lauded, as was the HTC One.
The sense that all this might represent a shift in the sector was something we were very attuned to here at uSwitch Towers. But to assess the breadth of feeling we polled our public. The results made for interesting reading.
Asked whether Samsung’s grip on Android is weakening, some 52% (484 people from a sample of 832) replied yes, actually, it is.
So what to make of this? Well, we wouldn’t go overboard. After all, the Samsung-sceptic lobby only won out by the narrowest of margins.
But the mere fact that so many people (proportionally at least) perceive that Samsung might not be the dominant Android player for too much longer certainly confirms that some kind of change is afoot. And that it may spell bad news for Samsung.
What we don’t know is what’s inspiring consumers' malaise. It could be something as simple as fashion - maybe Samsung got too big for its good. Or it might be that the gimmicky likes of eyeball-tracking smart pause mode SmartScreen did more to irk punters than inspire them.
What we can say is that much will ride on the slew of Samsung devices slated for release early next year. With the Galaxy Gear 2, Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 3 all purportedly due to land during the first quarter, we shouldn’t have too much longer to find out what happens next.