Samsung is set to debut its generation-skipping Galaxy Note 7 this summer on August 2. This typically reflects Samsung’s large-screen compatriot to the Galaxy S phone from earlier in the year. For the last couple of years, Samsung has issued an Edge variant to the Note series at this time as well. But pretty much the main thing distinguishing the Note from the S is the S-Pen. This isn’t exactly the definition of innovation here, amirite?
Further, the Edge variant of the Note last year lost the S-Pen. Add to that the fact that this year’s Galaxy Edge was .2” inches smaller than last year’s Galaxy S6 edge+, and we’ve been less-than-inspired by Samsung’s latest Note efforts. So maybe it’s time to shake things up a little bit?
No time like a year ago!
First of all, we need to acknowledge one thing, right off the bat – the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is launching the next week now. There is no way that Samsung is going to change things up now. There is a very long and drawn out process through which a phone must go before a final design is approved and manufacturing starts. So from a hardware standpoint things are pretty much set in stone – or aluminum and glass as the case may be.
So that doesn’t leave a whole lot to innovate with does it? Not to mention the Galaxy Note series of phones is immensely popular, second only to the Galaxy S series of phones themselves, so why mess with that winning formula? At the end of the day, the Note 5 was one of the best designed phones to date, so if you want to diverge from that, there had better be a good reason.
So let’s talk about some of those reasons, shall we? We are reaching a point in smartphone economics that iterative updates are not going to bring the fans in droves any more. People are keeping their phones longer and longer. Releasing basically the same phone year after year is becoming less sustainable as specifications start to level off. It’s becoming more important to distinguish your phones more from one generation to the next.
But even if the physical phone can’t change, software becomes equally important. A software/hardware combo like Project Tango could be the right recipe for success. A concept like Project Tango could appeal to a broad audience – business and consumer alike, especially if it becomes a Samsung standard. Nothing validates a concept quite like one of the biggest phone makers in the world adopting it. Although it would beat out the Phab 2, which Google and especially Lenovo might not like.
The thing with augmented reality is that it’s here, in a big way, and it’s not going anywhere, so adopt already. Plus, it’s a pretty big change in and of itself that would make the Note a lot more attractive to everyone, and give Samsung a boost in sales that are starting to plateau.
Time for an F5
Plus, a new innovation on the Note would refresh the brand quite a bit. The Note line of phones has become a bit stale of late with much the same look and feel as previous generations and previous generations of Galaxy S hardware. If Samsung wants to skip a number in the product cycle and go straight to a 7, a new look and feel for the phone should have come along with that. Otherwise, the risk to the phone and to the Note brand might be too great to overcome.
But that’s me, what do you think? Should Samsung go for a major refresh to the Note brand and bring something really new to the picture? Or should Samsung stick to the same winning formula that has brought a lot of success to the Note line of phones? Like many strategic decisions – this one isn’t so much black and white, so sound off below as we all don our CEO hats and let’s see if we can figure this out.