Why It Is so Hard to Buy a Samsung
Or any other tech device that isn’t Apple
I got pissed off. I am still angry as I write this. Why are they all doing this? Why isn’t anyone thinking differently?
I decided not to go to any academic institution to learn anything relating to marketing. The reason is that I don’t want to think like the hundreds and thousands of marketing graduates the education system produces each year. Marketing has a lot to do with standing out. How can you stand out when you are trained the same things, the same way, by academics?
The rabbit hole of search
I am so angry with the consumer tech industry today. And I’ll tell you why. I want to buy a new tab to replace the old one I use. The iPad is definitely out of consideration because I have some strong reasons (at the moment) to stick with android. And I have wasted some precious hours online just trying to decide.
At first, it was just a YouTube video. I believed I would get answers from there. And that is how I got into the rabbit hole. After going from video to video, I went to Google search so I could have some direction. It led me back to the videos. And suddenly I realized how much time I had wasted trying to make a decision.
I kept finding something I wanted but then the device would lack one important thing. And that would send me searching again. Yes, there is no perfect device. And I don’t need a perfect device. I just need a tab that meets my needs. And my needs are not that huge.
I don’t care about the camera, but I don’t joke with the display. I don’t care about how fast it renders and implements video editing effects. But I care about the microSD memory slot. I don’t care about how sophisticated the speakers are as long as I can basically hear sounds and can put in my 3.5mm jack. I don’t care about the AI functionalities, but please don’t play games with battery life. I don’t care how much it is, as long as the device (marketing) speaks: this gadget is designed for you.
Is that a hard nut to crack?
Tech companies think they are doing consumers a favor by giving us options. That stuff is annoyingly confusing! The names of some of those devices are just plain annoying. The suffixes are great sources of confusion; Pro, Max, X, Plus, and so on. Those things are very annoying.
The most annoying part of it all is that they all think the same! There is not even one company that is thinking differently. All of them are just basically saying: hey, we’ve got this new tech, you should have it!
Everybody is trying to outdo the other on tech. Almost nobody is looking out for the needs of the consumer.
There are people who are interested in technical details. But it is a very small fraction of the market. The everyday person just has 3 or 4 things they really want. And they have a price range they will consider. All other things don’t really concern them.
Stop giving us options!
Giving your customers options is a bad idea. For example, I want to be able to boast that I made the best choice in choosing a device. Yet, I want to also be able to make that choice in minutes. Not after hours of watching videos. Save me the time for doing all that.
I tried looking for a tablet for writers and all the options were terrible. They were terrible because the specifications I considered important were not what they paid attention to. They only seem to think about artists and gamers. Which sent me right back to guesswork.
In the end, I came back to the Samsung S4 and S6. And I started the search with the S6. The S4 has the battery life, but I don’t like the glass (I have my reasons). It is not so trendy and it is heavy (unlike the S6), but I don’t want a stylus that steals part of my battery life. I can go on and on, but my point is that Samsung has given me a job to think about what I want. And I don’t want to think about what device to buy.
I was watching a review of the S4 and S6, and it seems from the comments that more people are choosing the S4 over the S6. And I almost agree. For example, what is the rationale behind removing the audio jack? I am a consumer, why have they turned me into a product analyst?
I know you want to say that I could just buy something and settle with whatever function I find. That’s a valid point. But if I wanted that I would buy Apple! Apple is the only brand you can buy and not have to explain the reason to your friends.
I have a friend who is a fan of Microsoft and a big fan of Surface. The Surface laptop is no doubt a brilliant device. But it is still awkward whenever he argues in favor of Surface over all the other brands.
Some users will still buy the latest brand of Samsung even if it lacks a lot of critical features. These brands need to understand that. If you are screaming that I should buy the S6, what concept or philosophy would I be buying? Why should I choose the S6? Convince me.
Are the features consistent with the brand?
Another thing that really bothers me is the whole; ‘it is thinner and lighter' thing. Nobody really cares about that. Those are the features. What are the benefits? What do you want to achieve by making the product lighter or thinner? You want it to make it more fashionable! So a question: are you a fashionable tech brand? What kind of user are you designing for?
Fashionable has to do with the brand much more than the product. But it seems everyone is competing based on fashion now. For example, I don’t expect Dell to be fashionable. But I expect it to be very durable. The moment I start to see fashionable Dell devices, my mind starts to convince me that the durability has been compromised.
Don’t get me wrong. Looks are important. But it is not as important as the concept you are trying to sell.
How to beat the competition
To beat a market leader, you don’t need to fault their product or compare your product to their product. That is very wrong. All you have to do is to identify the philosophy on which the product is based and defeat that philosophy with your own. And all who bond with your philosophy will become your customers.
I think some people need to read and use the information in the book, Blue Ocean Strategy. The consumer tech industry is ripe for a blue ocean. I hope someone figures something out soon.
So back to the thought I started with. What are these tech companies thinking? Why all these options? Why have they given me the pain of deciding which gadget to buy? No consumer deserves this. Stop making us think so hard.
In the end, I think I will just go to the gadget store and walk out with something. I have a strong leaning to Samsung though.
Moral of the Story
Don’t give your customers options. Anticipate their needs and sell them a concept. This applies specifically to consumer tech and similar industries. (It definitely does not apply to service industries).
P.S. With the narrow exception of the iPhone, I am yet to see a phone with more than 2 cameras behind it that looks good. The only phone that does it well is the Oneplus Concept One. And it is not into production (yet). Some of those multiple camera phones are very ugly. Which makes me think: what are these people thinking? The place they are all learning from must be avoided at all costs.