Innovation and world-class user experiences are two of the most challenging items for any technology vendor to execute on. Smartphone manufacturers have chased this holy grail for decades and have succeeded in many ways. However, innovation and user experience (UX) aren’t standing still. Brilliant screens, camera improvements, and voice assistants are examples of enhancements that are now considered table stakes. Increasingly the battleground for innovation is moving toward the elusive notion of UX.
While hardware innovation continues to be necessary, software innovations are what’s needed to create differentiation. It’s with this in mind that, I attended Samsung’s recent Galaxy Note launch event. Samsung launched new products across its entire mobile platform in the weeks leading up to the event. While the invitation highlighted the Samsung Note smartphone line, the event content showcased a myriad of hardware innovations that ranged from smartphones to tablets, P.C.s and smartwatches. For example, prominently featured products included the Samsung Tab, Galaxy Book as well as new smartphones.
In a surprise move, the company launched two Galaxy Note smartphones at the event. The new Note family offers two screen sizes each with S pen. The smaller of the two devices, the Note 10, offers consumers a 6.3-inch Cinematic Infinity Display while the Galaxy Note10+ showcases a larger 6.8-inches display while maintaining a similar size to the previous generation.
The Galaxy Note line, with its S Pen, is targeted at consumers that value productivity and creativity in a platform. The Note family offers a combination of the S pen, an intelligent long-lasting battery and SuperFast charging features that provide a good balance of useful innovation at the right price. In a saturated market, it makes sense that Samsung would focus on capturing latent demand from consumers that wanted a smaller device with the functionality that the S pen. However, it’s difficult for smartphone manufacturers to create differentiation amongst the various smartphone platforms. At this point, I believe we’ve reached the limit micro-segmentation with the Samsung line.
DJ Koh: The foundation of trust is of experience innovation
Samsung is known for its hardware innovation, such as the Galaxy Fold with a foldable screen. Increasingly, Samsung’s events have showcased software innovation. DJ Koh, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, used his time on stage to discuss experience innovation. The software updates to the S-pen provide examples of experience innovation within the Samsung portfolio. Software enhancements such as converting handwritten notes to text and providing the ability to export text to other non-Samsung applications such as Microsoft Word improve platform usability. Additionally, Air actions offer new experiences by allowing a person to control certain functions such as zoom in an out or flip to the rear camera by performing specific gestures with the S Pen.
The multi-device experience was a key theme at the event. With Samsung DeX software and a USB cable, a person can connect a Samsung smartphone to a P.C. or Mac and use their favorite mobile apps with a mouse and a keyboard. DeX also allows the user to drag and drop files between devices. Effectively, you can use your existing hardware as a docking station for your smartphone and you can seamlessly use both smartphone and P.C. apps.
Another example of software innovation for the Galaxy Note10 is a feature it calls Link to Windows. The feature allows a person to connect to their Windows 10 P.C. with one click from the quick panel. For there, the user can view notifications, send and receive messages, and review recent photos without pausing to look down at their phone. Samsung DeX offers experiences that a consumer finds useful in both their personal and corporate lives. For examples, you can add a presentation file to your smartphone, then access it easily by connecting to the monitor in the meeting room.
If you have a phone with an S Pen, you can use the stylus to flip through the slides on your phone easily. You can also use DeX mode to display one application on a monitor while you view a different application on your smartphone. A user can open several windows at once, drag and drop a photo into an email, and right click for more functions. The old phrase of a P.C. in your pocket comes to life with these new software experiences.
The latest software offerings enable seamless, multi-device experience across the mobile and P.C. One important thing to note is that we’ve discussed the notion of multi-device for ages, but multi-device services only worked if you purchased everything from one vendor. A deeper integration with Microsoft offers the opportunity to change this. In case anyone doubted the commitment to the partnership, CEO Satya Nadella took the stage to talk about the new experiences. Not many people get Nadella grace the stage which means this is serious partnership.
Samsung also has the opportunity to provide richer experiences by linking to its large appliance portfolio such as T.V.s and smart refrigerators into the strategy and will most likely discuss this at its upcoming Samsung Developer Conference. These are the types of seemingly simple software features that define a new level of simplicity and usability. The Android ecosystem is known for its rich customization but complexity. It’s good to see Samsung delivering simplicity across software stacks from Samsung, Android and Windows ecosystem.
The battle for growth.
These software innovations will keep Samsung near the top of the pack, but one has to ask if these software innovations are enough? In a market where smartphone growth requires stealing share, Samsung has the largely untapped benefit of being a consumer-first brand that’s also enterprise-friendly. In fact, the enterprise market could prove to be its secret weapon in competing with Apple. By delivering software innovation that supports both consumer and enterprise use, Samsung can more effectively compete for the bring your own device business. Additionally, Samsung has the opportunity to win the business in replacing special purpose devices, such as handheld bar code scanners and public safety radios, with smartphones and tablets.
It takes a combination of industrial design, a rich device portfolio and frictionless security to win the hearts and minds of enterprise mobility purchasers. By all accounts, Samsung products meet those raw requirements. It offers a wide range of devices that span from smartwatches to computers. The hardware and software of Samsung smartphones, tablets and wearables come with embedded KNOX mobile security. KNOX offers multiple layers of protection from the chip through the software, allaying enterprise I.T. security fears associated with the Android operating system.
Additionally, many enterprise customers look for the ability to suggest product features. Customization can be as simple as having it provisioned with a security profile or as complicated as having a specific port moved to a particular area. Samsung has been known as a company that’s willing to work with groups of enterprise customers to provide new enhancements. The company’s focus on multi-device experiences allows enterprise I.T. to design new workplace experiences such as workforce management applications that deliver tasks to an employee’s smartwatch and augmented reality experiences that guide a service technician through a repair in the field.
It’s a good time to focus on specific markets such as law enforcement, retail, and transportation that are in dire need of new devices. Airlines and trucking companies are also in the midst of replacing ruggedized laptops and handhelds. Samsung has made significant headway in these markets. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Note10 devices are certified to work on FirstNet, the U.S. public safety communications platform. Additionally, Knox has five U.S. government certifications that allow Samsung devices to be on the approved list for government procurement. Samsung also partners with companies, such as ScandIt for barcode scanning to help retailers and manufacturing replace outdated equipment and Trimble for fleet management in logistics.
While Samsung is winning business in these markets, there’s more to be done. Investments in DeX, KNOX and the Microsoft partnership will keep Samsung on the short-list for enterprise mobility. However, market education for enterprise customer’s is critical. Vertical industry software partnerships and industry sales expertise are requirements for winning digital transformation business. Samsung must push further into creating vertical industry solutions if it wants to unseat Apple. Continued investment in security and privacy are essential for both consumer and enterprise clients. I.T. leaders also want vendors to manufacture and support a specific model of smartphone, tablet and P.C. for several years. Finally, Samsung needs to ensure it has global partnerships to support device repair, replacement and service desk for multi-national companies.
Overall, we’re in the fourth wave of enterprise mobility market. However, in many ways, the battle for enterprise mobility market share is still in its infancy. Many businesses have gone digital but haven’t optimized applications and processes for mobile work. Samsung has a majority of the components to be a successful in the enterprise market. However, it must continue to invest in creating a set of procedures and solutions that meet enterprise expectations for software releases, device cadence, partnerships and support. The enterprise device market’s ripe for another transition. It will be interesting to see which vendors win with enterprise I.T. in 2020.