The ever-changing smartphone market is hard to track, and sometimes predictions go overboard.
With the Galaxy Note 7 officially dead and close to buried, focus has shifted from talking about the product and recall itself over to what the short- and long-term impacts will be for Samsung. We know the immediate financial impact on Samsung Electronics will total at least $5 billion in losses for just the next few quarters, not to mention the unknown loss of sales on other phones and the loss of good will toward the company when it comes time to launch its next big phone.
Samsung's in a tough spot, that's for sure. But for a company as big as Samsung Electronics — not to mention Samsung as a whole — this isn't going to ruin it forever or have a long-lasting impact. Galaxy phones will continue to sell, new products will come out and eventually it will get past this rollercoaster couple of months surrounding the Note 7. It's easy to exaggerate just how bad this will be for Samsung, but I'm convinced the real pain will be short lived over at Samsung HQ.
These phones aren't going to sell just by being there; they have to be great products themselves.
On the other side of the coin, many words have been typed this week speculating as to which company has the most to gain in the wake of the Note 7's final recall. Apple is a clear choice for many. Some say LG's V20 is ready to steal the show in the "big, expensive phone" segment. Others say this is a godsend for the folks in Google's hardware division launching the Pixel XL this very week.
Apple really didn't need help selling phones; even with the Note 7 in the market it was going to sell the iPhone 7 Plus faster than it could make 'em. The LG V20 still isn't actually available, and only one U.S. retailer has even given us pricing info (AT&T at $830, oof) despite the impending launch on October 28; that is of course some seven weeks after announcing it. And then there's Google, which is clearly trying harder to sell the Pixel and Pixel XL to a wide market than it ever had with a Nexus phone.
As I've said many times this week, Google is fighting an uphill battle in terms of simple brand awareness and consumers associating the Google name with high-end smartphones — and that's absolutely still the case even with the Note 7 off of the market. Losing the Note 7 in the $800+ smartphone range certainly creates a vacuum to which several companies can step in and sell additional phones, but that doesn't mean phones will sell just by being there. Google, LG and everyone else still has to make great phones and tell an interesting story to get people to drop this kind of money today. So far the Pixels look wonderful, but that doesn't mean they'll step in and steal all of the Note 7 sales by default.
A few more thoughts as we wrap up another week in the Android world:
- It's Pixel launch week, which means we're just a couple days away from shipping notices for those first pre-orders. My "quite black" 32GB Pixel should be here on October 20. Can't wait.
- On Wednesday I'll be down in San Francisco for LeEco's big launch event, which is really the company's first attempt to explain to the U.S. just what it is and the kind of products it makes.
- LeEco is a giant Chinese (based there, but very much multinational) company that most people haven't even heard of — that's a tough battle to fight with entrenched companies that have been doing business in North America for years.
- I'm extremely excited by Project Fi group plans. People constantly point to the "high" cost-per-gigabyte data rates, but I think that's getting in the way of people just trying this awesome carrier that's so simple and easy to use, which also offers excellent service.
- My Under Armour Band broke last week, so I've been back using the Samsung Gear Fit 2 — it's a great fitness and daily activity tracker, plus a little extra. I miss the week-long battery life from my UA Band, and the Fit 2 also kind of sucks at tracking my soccer matches.
- If you live in the Pacific Northwest I hope you made it through the stormy conditions up here okay. People on the coast really took it hard.
That's it for this weekend. More fun coming in the next week.