How Samsung became the biggest smartphone brand with Android?
Samsung, one of the biggest smartphone players in the world, has the highest global smartphone market share of nearly 21%. This is higher than other players like Apple and Huawei. Samsung’s success with Android has been nothing short of brilliant. What’s even more fascinating is that earlier Android players like HTC, LG and Sony weren’t able to match the success Samsung. Even the parent company of Android, Google is still struggling with sales of their own Pixel branded smartphones. So how Samsung became such a big player in the smartphone world? There are many factors related to this. We are going to explore them all in this article.
The beginning of smartphone era and release of S series
In 2007, Apple reviled its iPhone to the public. It was a revolutionary device, that intended to change the phone market forever. It introduced a new kind of operating system, the iOS. iOS was different from other mobile operating systems in two ways: operating system was intended solely for touch screen devices. Secondly, it introduced an app store. Google on the other hand, was working on their own mobile operating system, known as Android today. Google had acquired Android inc. for $50 million in 2005. However, after seeing the new iPhone in 2007, Google started redesigning their own operating system with a clean slate. In 2008, HTC Dream was released, which was first ever Android smartphone.
With the release of Android, Samsung also launched its first Android smartphone. Samsung released Galaxy series of devices. Specifically, Samsung launched Galaxy S series in 2010, which intended to take on the Apple’s iPhone. That was one of the biggest steps in company’s success that was about to follow. Samsung’s Galaxy S series is still today one of the best selling smartphone series for the company. Samsung Galaxy S2, which was second iteration of the Galaxy S series, launched in 2011, really helped Samsung to solidify itself as the Global Smartphone leader by overtaking Apple in terms of sales with a market share of 21% compared to 14% of Apple.
Big screen devices: Galaxy Note
In 2011, in a rather unusual move, Samsung released another series of device. This was named the Galaxy Note. The device had two unusual things: it had a stylus, quoted by Samsung as the S pen. Secondly, the phone had a fairly large screen size of 5.3 inches. The phone’s screen was so big at the time, that many people quoted the device as a ‘phablet’. To compare, the iPhone of that year had a screen size of 3.5 inches and Samsung’s Galaxy S2 had a screen size of 4.3 inches. Many analysts were skeptical of success of the Galaxy Note, since they thought that device was too big. But who could've imagine that, the Note device was a beginning of a trend of smartphones with big screens. The big screen size trend even forced Apple to redesign their iPhone 5 for 2012 with bigger screen of 4 inches and again for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches respective in 2014. Modern day smartphones now have screen sizes of more than 6 inches. Even Samsung started making their S series devices with bigger screens for future models. All this trend of big screen devices was started by Note itself. For Samsung, Galaxy Note series has served hand-in-hand along with its S series devices each year. Galaxy Note series has its own unique fan base, who love to see and experience a new Note device each year.
Smartphones for all prize brackets
Samsung has adopted a different strategy compared to Apple. Apple only offers premium devices for premium prize segment of smartphone. While Samsung has adopted completely different approach. Samsung has always tried to offer range of phones for different range of prize brackets. This has brought Samsung success across the globe, especially in prize sensitive markets. This strategy has made Samsung the smartphone giant of the world we know today. In 2018, seeing the rise of Chinese brands like Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, RealMe and Xiaomi, Samsung strengthened its line of mid to low range of Smartphones with the launch of Galaxy M series and Galaxy A series of devices in parts of Asia and Europe. This move from Samsung clearly indicates that there is no change of strategy for Samsung for near future. Instead, it shows brand’s will to compete against the new competitors and intention to remain at fore-front of smartphone sales.
How it handled the crises
The company’s actions during a crises can be the difference between the success and failure of the company’s future. Samsung has faced two major crises in last few years. The biggest one was in 2016. After the launch of Galaxy Note 7, some of the handsets started catching fire due to issues in battery of the device. The issue was so big that many Airlines refusing passengers to carry a Note 7 device due to safety reasons. Many believed that Samsung had try to put too big of a battery in a very slim and compact package. After few days of offering replacements to the affected device owners, Samsung took a bold decision to immoderately stop selling Note 7 devices and intended all Note 7 owners to return their devices to Samsung in exchange of compensation or Galaxy S7 device. Many thought Samsung was over after this, but Samsung came back in 2017. Samsung not only launched S8 devices in early 2017, but they released Galaxy Note 8 a reasons well later that year by applying all the things that they learned from Note 7 fiasco and helped build back their reputation. Samsung still remained the biggest smartphone company in 2017 even after Note 7 crises.
Second crises occurred recently after the launch of Galaxy Fold in February 2019, one of the first fordable smartphones in 2019. Samsung sent some review units to many content creators across to get feedback. However, only after few days of use, many Galaxy Folds started to break due to various different reasons. While some of the devices had gone burst due to the removal of a polymer screen layer which many assumed as a screen protector, some had an issue of dust entering the complex hinge mechanism of the device. Samsung in response recalled all the devices and promised to relaunch the device with improved durability. Fulfilling its promise, Samsung relaunched the device in September with improvements to polymer screen layer and dust durability of the hinge mechanism. Galaxy Fold was praised for its innovative design and Samsung was praised for the intent of innovating with a new smartphone design. Samsung again handled the situation professionally. Galaxy Fold sales broke all Samsung’s expectations.
How competition had lack of success compared to Samsung
HTC, the company which released first ever Android smartphone, did not able to enjoy similar success as Samsung did. HTC struggled so much that it has struggled to post profit since many years. Even other companies like Sony and LG, who started the race of smartphone game with Android, have failed to compete with Samsung ever since. Chinese brands like OnePlus, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo have given better completion than them. Google itself has struggled to match Samsung’s premium smartphone sales with its Pixel line of smartphones. Google has less than even 1% market share in North America alone. Samsung’s constant strategy to innovate and adapt according to smartphone market trends has enabled to it to maintain its dominance in the market.
Future for Samsung
Samsung is still the market leader of the smartphone industry. However, with ever changing technology, Samsung has to constantly adapt to changing smartphone trends of the future. Markets have gone mature in many countries especially in North America and Europe. Also competition from Chinese brands like Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, RealMe, Huawei and Xiaomi is gonna get even hader. The technology of smartphones is also getting pretty saturated. Hence, that’s why Folding phones and phones with completely bezel free screen are going to dominate in future. The battle for supremacy for the smartphone market is going to be tough for Samsung, but for sure they’re not going to give up without a fight.