How can Samsung avoid the same trap as Apple and ensure the Galaxy S9 remains popular?
Apple’s answer was to announce the iPhone X and iPhone 8 family at the same time, hoping that the drop in sales of the iPhone 8 would be countered by the iPhone X sales. It’s an interesting gamble and the results may not be clear for a year.
Samsung is in a similar quandary with the expected arrival of the Galaxy X.
The Galaxy X is expected to be the South Korean company’s first ‘foldable’ smartphone. The technology has been worked on for many years with numerous patents filed.
With Samsung’s lead in mobile displays powering ‘revolutionary’ devices like the iPhone X and the Note 8, a commercial demonstrate of the display team’s talents would be welcomed. Unlike Apple, which has decided to push the iPhone X out as the flagship handset, I think Samsung will play a cannier game with its X and draw inspiration from the Galaxy Note Edge.
That phablet was launched alongside the Note 4, but it featured a new design tweak with its curved edge along the right-hand side. Launched to critical acclaim the Note Edge never pitched as a flagship, and it was only available in limited quantities in South Korea from September 2014.
Samsung proved the technology in a single market before expanding the technology out to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge launched in March 2015 alongside the vanilla Galaxy S6.
Samsung has a lot of experience with managing a wide portfolio of devices, so it has experience in not damaging the retail prospects of one device by launching a second into a similar space.
I’d consider a launch at CES 2019 to be the best bet for the Galaxy X. It’s a clear space in Samsung’s schedule, it ties in with the ongoing certification of a mystery Samsung device, and it stops any other smartphone manufacturer potentially grabbing the attention of the world’s tech press.
The Galaxy X is a brand new device and restricting availability to South Korea, Samsung will do its best to protect the Galaxy S9 from being weakened by the folding screen of the Galaxy X.
It’s not a perfect scenario because there will be many who would look at a non-folding S9 and wonder where the new technology is, but this is where Samsung has an advantage over Apple.
The iPhone was always seen as a one-size fits everyone device in Apple’s limited portfolio. Samsung has far more models in its range and it is accepted that not every model has every feature – such as the S-Pen remaining an exclusive feature of the Note phablets.
Allowing the Galaxy X to launch in early January at CES as an experimental ‘X’ device, and restricting it to the South Korean market should allow Samsung to gather the consumer knowledge it needs to improve the folding screen concept.
While offering the Galaxy S9 it’s own space to dominate the market at Mobile World Congress in late February and into its retail sales debut in March.