Samsung's Unpacked 2 could have been a press release, despite having nothing to lose
It's not uncommon for companies to host multiple events for different products, experts say, noting that different products require a different stage. However, they had mixed reactions to Samsung's Unpacked 2 event, calling it an "attention-getting" moment, but one that could potentially "set a tone for the industry."
On Wednesday, October 20, Samsung revealed the "Galaxy Z Flip 3 Bespoke Edition," a new edition to the Flip 3 line that allows customers who buy to create customized version of the Flip 3. Customers will be able to choose from 49 different color combinations, mixing and matching to "create their own unique combination" for their new phone, Samsung says. The phone is considered one of the best Android phones this year.
The South Korea-based company said that customers will be able to design their own Galaxy Z Flip 3 via the Galaxy Flip 3 Bespoke Studio on Samsung.com.
Samsung is also offering Bespoke Upgrade Care, specific to those customers who have purchased the bespoke edition of the Flip 3, which will allow them to change their device color whenever they want. This new service will be available to customers in South Korea, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Australia, and Canada as of today.
Samsung also announced two special editions of the Galaxy Watch 4 and Buds 2 through a partnership with Japanese-French independent fashion brand Maison Kitsuné.
The company's announcements come in the same week as Apple and Google announced major fall product launches.
It's unusual for a company to have a stand-alone event for this type of announcement
Anshel Sag, a senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, says in an interview that this was clearly a way for Samsung to stay relevant in the middle of a month that was heavy with tech announcements.
"I do believe that this is an attention-getting exercise considering how launch-heavy October has been this year," he says. "Normally, a company would just put out a press release and let people pick it up if they were interested because these are effectively just a series of new colors."
This isn't the first time that a company has had more than one event in the span of a few months. Apple launched the iPhone 13 during an event in mid-September and Samsung had its first Unpacked event back in August to launch this line of new Flip devices.
However, unlike Samsung and Apple, the last time Google had a major event was Google I/O in May, during which the company did not announce any new hardware. In August, Google did launch a slew of new Nest home products, but the announcements were not accompanied by an event and were rather announced via press releases.
Jitesh Ubrani, International Data Corporation's research manager of worldwide device trackers, says in an interview that most companies hold different events, but it's usually to launch different products.
"Many companies do hold multiple events though this typically happens when there are multiple product lines to be announced like iPhones versus Mac events, Nest versus Pixels, but it's quite unusual to see an event for an existing product that now has more color or design options," he says.
Sag agrees, adding that "it's common for events to be around the same time, but companies usually stick to the same time every year for phones."
Was this announcement worth an event, or was it strategic?
And while some may think the event was not necessary, Neil Shah, vice-president of research at Counterpoint Research, says in an interview that Samsung was strategic in putting on a show for phone customizations.
"This is first in the kind for smartphones and especially one of their most popular unique luxury devices which are doing well, so it makes sense for Samsung to carve out an exclusive event on the 'thinking' and premise behind why they are bringing Bespoke to the smartphone industry and thereby setting a futuristic trend, remain competitive, and differentiate," he says.
Shah notes that this event isn't as impactful as the one Apple or Google put on, but that this will still make "heads roll in the competition camps" with the chance of them wanting to add customization options in the future.
He notes whenever a company is launching something that "could potentially set a tone for the industry" and would carve out an exclusive space, then an event is warranted. He says that Samsung is clearly thinking about the future and acting on it now.
It's worth noting that in 2013, Motorola used to have the Moto Maker, which allowed users to customize their Moto X or Moto G. That program was quietly discontinued several years ago, so it is not certain if this program offered by Samsung will truly be revolutionary.
Samsung has nothing to lose, but this event could be an 'afterthought'
Ubrani notes that while the event will likely be "an afterthought" compared to Google and Apple's announcements, "Samsung might still have a leg up" as it will give a boost to the Flip 3 fashion appeal, which Google's Pixel and Apple's iPhone do not have.
"It was certainly not necessary and in any other year, these announcements would have likely been done via a press release or at the same time as the product launches. But with the prevalence of virtual events, Samsung only stands to gain from this standalone event as it keeps the company and its products relevant in the news cycle," he says.
Shah agrees, noting that going virtual for a launch makes it easier for a company to have multiple events and continue to be in the news cycle on the mindshare.
"This is even more prudent right now as it is virtual and it will have more legs and eyeballs than doing it exclusively physically [and in-person] in the U.S. or in Korea, or somewhere else," he says.
Further to this, Shah notes that having personalization offerings is the "next battleground" in the smartphone market and raises the bar specifically in the luxury ultra-premium market.
"Look at what Apple has done with the Apple Watch band options providing users to differentiate and stand out. Samsung started something similar with Galaxy Z Flip 3 with multiple customizable/personalization features than before for Android users," he says.
Samsung could have done something different with this event
Sag notes that while there is no major cost in having a virtual event, perhaps doing it in-person in a different fashion actually might have made the announcement more interesting.
"Perhaps it's a gamble. I think when you consider the limited cost of holding a virtual event and the fact that there isn't really much to do other than show these devices off, I think it would be far more interesting if they did it in a fashion-show format," he says.
Sag adds that the announcement isn't as robust as what Apple and Google had to announce and that in the future, Samsung should be careful about scheduling events like this.
"There's a chance that people won't attend events from Samsung in the numbers Samsung expects if they are going to hold events for such minor things," he says.
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Shruti Shekar is Android Central's managing editor. She was born in India, brought up in Singapore, but now lives in Toronto and couldn't be happier. She started her journalism career as a political reporter in Ottawa, Canada's capital, and then made her foray into tech journalism at MobileSyrup and most recently at Yahoo Finance Canada. When work isn't on her mind, she loves working out, reading thrillers, watching the Raptors, and planning what she's going to eat the next day.