Smartphones are probably the best innovation in the last few years, which have brought forth significant changes to the way a phone is used, and in some areas have gone far ahead of computers in terms of the usability. Maybe a decade or so back, we were hardly aware of how the ecosystem would be affected by mobile computing devices which will be able to do so much more.
Smartphones are able to do so much more than just connect us with other people. They have in fact changed the way we work, live and socialize. And there are some names which have come to dominate this area and are bringing in the latest advancements to customers constantly. The current leaders in the segment feature names like Apple, Google and Samsung. While the first two have brought in the innovations that have changed the market altogether, the third has used a combination of guile and intelligence to get much ahead of everyone else. It is quite interesting to review the tactics that these manufacturers have undertaken to become Numero Uno in their niches.
While Apple’s diligent focus on customer experience drives it to create the most innovative features in the iPhone, it’s almost the “minimalism wins” philosophy that Apple has won so many accolades for. It uses customer intelligence rather than market research to come up with the most innovative technology advancements that has floored its customers, through the iPhone, iPod and more recently the iPad. However, the new versions of the iPhone just seem to be building on the name than actually bringing any new features to the fore. It is no wonder, then, that global sales of the iPhone 5 continue to dwindle.
From its humble beginnings in search, Google has now become the creator of one of the most widely used mobile ecosystems in the world, Android. Also, with its Nexus line of hardware, it has redefined the Android hardware arena. At Google, technological advancements are done on a daily basis. While Samsung is extremely good at understanding the market trend and quickly coming out with a tweaked version of an existing idea, Google has led the way in the last few years not only in terms of executing innovative ideas, but also in achieving them on a global scale.
In Samsung’s case, some of the initial smartphones seemed to be a combination of ideas from a few of the leading handsets at the time. However, those were the initial days of the Galaxy series, and the Korean giant now is the leading Android manufacturer. It has used a very systematic tactic towards innovation, in which it analyzes market trends, and draws on its vast resources to build and launch a new device. It has been very successful in this regard because of the fact that it is a market leader in a variety of industries, like manufacturing, semi-conductor design, electronics, and technology.
Its Galaxy SIII is the most successful Android phone and has been the most widely selling handset of 2012. However, at a closer look at its best features show how similar they are to existing features launched by its rivals. Samsung’s S-Voice, for instance, seems to be doing the same task as Siri, only much less effectively. Similarly the S-Beam seems to be doing what the Android Beam does, however it limits the functionality to the Galaxy S handsets only while the Android Beam can be used for any Android device. Take the instance of the Samsung Galaxy S4, which is just about to be launched. The rumors and alleged leaks thus far have shown that it is just going to be a minor enhancement to the Galaxy SIII. The S4 is set to feature a bigger screen, and a better one at that, and have the latest hardware, but in terms of the actual usability and the features that an everyday user would rely on, there does not seem to be any major changes. Rather, Samsung have seemingly invested in eye-tracking technology and this looks like it would be a mainstay in the S4.
With this in mind, we ask if needless innovation really is the way forward for smartphones. It is true that innovation is the backbone of any advancement, this holds good when talking about technology. However, manufacturers should look into innovations that not only enhance the user interaction, but are also useful. Innovation should not be done for innovation’s sake. Only when this is done can we really see devices that truly redefine what we are accustomed to.