July 17, 2017 Last Updated 4:32 pm

Reminder: Last year Samsung phones started exploding, but now many see them as the leader

Apple let their main competitor off the hook by releasing a new iPhone last year that had few customers excited, elevating the expectations for the rumored iPhone 8

I will try really hard not to make this another Apple bashing story, there have been plenty of those here and other publishing websites recently. But I had a few thoughts as we are in the dog days of summer, before the fall release of the new iPhones, and Samsung’s release of Galaxy Note 8.

My thought is this: how the hell did Apple completely blow their opportunity to stick a dagger into Samsung?

Last year, if you recall, Samsung was in the news for their exploding cell phones. In early September —right before the release of the new iPhones, I might add — Samsung was having to deal with the news that a customer had their Galaxy Note 7 blow up in their Jeep. Within weeks, the company’s new phone was being banned by major airlines, and the FAA issued a statement:

In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices, the Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.

Then airlines began to make their cabin crews tell passengers that if they own a Samsung phone they would need to power it down and not use it during the flight. It was a public relations nightmare.

Then Apple released its new iPhone, which customers bought in droves, but yet got few really excited. Sales were in the millions, but still below what investors would have liked to see.

As for me, I had no reason to buy the new phone, and if rumors are true, I doubt seriously I’ll be willing to pay over $1000 for the new one coming out this fall, either.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung, meanwhile, is back, and many reviews call their Samsung Galaxy S8 “The most beautiful phone…ever.”

For me, the only reason I have not bought the latest Samsung is that my iPhone is unlocked and not under contract. Still, I can see where things are going, and they don’t seem to be going in Apple’s direction.

The thing that really stands out for me is that this year the rumors almost beg buyers to hold back. While Apple will no doubt preview all their new iPhone offerings at its September event, many reports point to a delayed launch for the high-end iPhone 8. That means some buyers will wait. And guess what? That will seriously effect sales, especially in Apple’s Q1 which is the all important holiday season.

Or maybe not. Maybe the rumors are BS. Maybe Apple is tired of being scooped by the tech sites and have figured out that a little misdirection would be a good thing.

That is why I decided to write this post, to put it out there, that my own expectations are very low, and that if they are surpassed I can actually write a story that is both enthusiastic and genuine.

Though I’m betting on disappointment, I do find some of the mock-ups for the iPhone 8 pretty attractive, with its edge-to-edge screen, and metal frame that reminds one of the original iPhone (still the most radical redesign of the cell phone that has been launched).

But $1200?

For those just coming into the cell phone market today, the time frame of 2008 to 2012 must seem like a foreign landscape. That was the time, at least in the US, when one could buy a new iPhone, or other high-end smartphone for $200.

Of course, there were a lot of downsides to that purchase, like a two-year contract and installment payments being added to your bill. But there was real excitement in knowing that you could get a new phone every two years, and that phone would be miles more advanced than the one you had bought just two years earlier.

In many way, the reason smartphones dominate tech discussions today is the same reason PCs dominated in the ’90s, the advances were so great. The idea that one would own a PC longer than three years was rare because software advances demanded hardware advances, and the manufacturers were delivering those advances.

I mention this because I was looking at an old budget this morning and reminiscing about the days of bloated capital expenditure budgets. The one I was looking at had $20,000 for new computers for my editors and the art director. That meant a few new Macs and some upgrades to Quark and Photoshop.

By the time I left my last traditional magazine publishing job getting any hardware upgrades approved involved long battles with ownership, rarely won.

I imagine not much has changed, and the idea of a huge capital expenditure budget probably feels like a dream for many publishers today. This fall will, no doubt, be a really tense one as one prepares budgets for 2018. One publisher of a B2B magazine told me she knows she will be asked to cut expenses yet again, but doesn’t see any place left to cut except salaries. “Could I really see myself asking my staff to take a pay cut just so management approves the budget,” she asked rhetorically.

Another publisher called to see if I had heard any rumors about their magazines being sold off. I couldn’t lie, “yes, I hear them all the time,” I said.

“To anybody good?” they asked back.

“Yes” I said, which no doubt made them feel better.

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