The recurring theme running through my head the past few days is, obviously, the headline for this column. Timing is everything. OK, maybe not everything in the mobile business -- hardware and software still count for something -- but timing is still damned important.
That's particularly true when launching a new smartphone. Last week's Samsung Galaxy S4 event in New York City offered any number of ways to consider how timing affects a launch, and affects a product as a whole. And not just for Samsung. HTC and LG did their best to nip at Samsung's heels Hell, so did Apple.
Make no mistake -- every other mobile company sees Samsung as the one to stop. There's some serious realpolitik going on these days.
Some thoughts on timing:
- We've now had the HTC One for a week. (Today marks Day 8, actually, or Day 6 with more complete software.) To me, that's about the minimum amount of time to properly get to the ins and outs of a brand new flagship. There are some big concepts -- and a lot of little stuff -- to keep track of with the HTC One. Reading back through some recent and past comments regarding how long it takes to review a phone, I've decided we're going to do things our way. If that it took us a week to write a comprehensive review means more to a reader than the review itself, well, I can't help ya.
- So, yeah. Look for our HTC One review in the next couple days.
- I can't recall another time when we've had two new flagships to deal with (that makes it sound way more like a drag than it is, but you know what I mean), at the same time. Trying to properly learn and test one phone while traveling for the launch event of another. Craziness. We're a pretty lean organization.
- That's partly why Alex has taken the lead on the HTC One review while I focused on features. The bigger reason is because we have European devices. Alex is in Europe. So he actually gets to get a proper feel for battery life in regards to network use -- including LTE. (Splitting things up like that also lets us give better play to the features, I believe. Wish we could do this every time.)
- Thinking about how not one, not two -- but three companies were taking potshots at Samsung on the eve of the Galaxy S4 announcement. Apple, LG and HTC.
- Apple's Phil Schiller was spewing his usual bile. He made the rookie mistake, however, of posing a question he didn't know the answer to. The Galaxy S4 indeed will ship with Android 4.2.2, the most recent version of Android. Not that it'd be the end of the world if it shipped with 4.1 -- and, actually, being wrong might not matter. How many follow-up "Schiller was wrong!!!" headlines did you see? Not many.
- So kudos to Daring Fireball's John Gruber for calling Schiller out on that "Unforced error."
- Both HTC and LG did well to get headlines last week, despite neither announcing anything.
- LG ran electronic billboards atop Samsung's in Time Square, co-opting the "4" motif. Smart (and a little classier than HTC's guerilla tactics, IMHO), but the Optimus G hasn't had all that much traction in the United States. Still, stories were written. Score.
- HTC showed up with hired guns outside Radio City Music Hall, handing out swag (potato chips?) to the queue and showing off the HTC One. And it did so loudly enough (neon HTC hats, anyone?) to make sure that everyone saw them. It also helps that one of the bigger lines was for the media, and we spotted at least one plainclothes HTC staffer. I still think that ploy might have had more weight if the HTC One was actually available in more than a few countries.
- I guess those stories are news, but make no mistake -- they're softballs.
- Speaking of marketing tactics, when are we going to start seeing that proper marketing push from HTC that we've all been talking about? I was kind of surprised to see LG signage and not HTC.
- With the delays the HTC One has seen, it's going to reach the mass market dangerously close to the Galaxy S4. In any other scenario, a delay of a few weeks probably wouldn't be as significant.
- But timing is everything.