It’s no secret that it’s not just Apple that Samsung has to compete with in the smartphone market. Samsung also has to compete against virtually every Chinese manufacturer, especially in markets like India, where Chinese manufacturers have gained a foothold thanks to the aggressive pricing of their phones while dangling eye-poppingly impressive spec sheets in front of the customer.
While Samsung has surprisingly held up to the onslaught, even in price-sensitive markets (again, India being a prime example), Chinese manufacturers have cornered it when it comes to the kind of specs customers expect from smartphones. And that’s simply because Chinese manufacturers innovate – or rather, continue to give better specs to phones with increasingly lower price tags – at a pace that Samsung can’t keep up with, but which the Korean giant has to contend with nonetheless.
200W charging? 200MP cameras? Where does it end?
For example, it’s not uncommon to see OEMs like Xiaomi, Oppo, and others trying to outdo each other by getting faster and faster battery charging on their phones every few months. Frankly, with the speed at which things are moving in the world of Android smartphones, there may come a time when Android smartphone manufacturers get to a point where no meaningful innovation is possible and realize that all this focus on specs was the wrong way to tackle things all along.
Yes, a phone with a 200W charging power sounds impressive, but do most customers care that their phone charges in under an hour? Do they provide better shots from their phone cameras, or have phone cameras progressed to the point where anything you shoot in auto mode is more than good enough, especially if you take most of your photos during the day?
Our main concern is that in the race to deliver the best specs at the lowest prices, Chinese manufacturers will also have Samsung knocked out. Samsung has not been at aggressive in trying to keep up with the Chinese competition based on specs and yet it continues to do well around the world. But even at its slower pace, it might not be long before Samsung peaks and reaches the same point-of-no-return as competition from the world’s most populous nation.
And before it gets too bad, I think Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo etc should take a step back and reevaluate their strategies. Perhaps take a lesson or two from Apple, which focuses not on big hardware specs, but on the overall experience and services customers actually want to use, and generally realize that for the average consumer, the numbers on the spec sheet are not as important as they think.
Meanwhile, for the relatively small subgroup of customers who want the latest and greatest specs, smartphone brands can always have one or two top models, but perhaps focus more on selling them online. We’re not suggesting that brands stop caring about the hardware altogether, just that it might be a good idea to re-evaluate the speed at which all innovations and specification upgrades are delivered.