Samsung, it's time to look beyond your own handsets

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: July 8, 2012

I’ll admit it: I like the Galaxy S III by Samsung. I didn’t think I would. In fact, I never had any plans to actually touch one, that’s how disappointed in the device at launch I was. It just “didn’t do it for me,” as they say. But, once I saw a sign that said I could touch one at a local shop, I went in, and I played with it. Sure enough, I liked it, and I still like it. I like it so much, in fact, that it is the device that’s bringing me back into the Android fold.

But, there are a few things that rub me the wrong way.

As far as features go, Samsung manages to put plenty of them into their phones. When it comes to their high-end devices, they’re usually crammed full. Samsung can do this so well because they have a knack for not only creating their own features, but expanding the features that come stock within Android. For example, in the Galaxy S III we’ve got their S-Voice feature, which is obviously inspired by Apple’s Siri. We also have S-Beam, which is obviously built upon Android Beam; the feature debuted within Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Both of these features are tent poles for the Galaxy S III, some of the best driving bullet points for the new handset. I don’t have a problem with S-Voice, because it works quite well. My issue is with S-Beam. Actually, to be blunt, my issue is with Samsung’s overconfidence.

The company should be confident in their products, no doubt. They sell a lot of them, after all. And I have no doubt that Samsung will sell a lot of Galaxy S IIIs, too. Even here in the States. With that being said, though, it’s a crying shame that S-Beam is a feature that only works between Galaxy S III devices. Honestly, it just doesn’t make any sense.

Android Beam works between devices that are running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and beyond. Up until very recently, that was a very, very limited number of devices (not counting rooted devices, of course). So, in essence, Google was doing what Samsung is right now: offering up a feature that not many people are going to be able to enjoy. However, Android Beam isn’t going anywhere, obviously, so as long as people continue to buy Android-based handsets, they’ll be able to use it.

S-Beam, though, is meant for Galaxy S IIIs only. This just doesn’t make any sense, because while you’re offering up a great feature, you’re doing so by actually limiting the same feature. I feel like this just doesn’t make any sense at all. Furthermore, how is it that Samsung believes showcasing S-Beam, with its very limited range and scope, is actually better than promoting Android Beam as a whole? How is limiting something going to be a selling point?

It will be a selling point because the average consumer isn’t even going to know that’s what is happening. They aren’t going to ask, “Well, where did Android Beam go?” And you know what? Even if a customer does ask that question, the sales rep selling the phone will probably say something like, “S-Beam uses the same technology, and builds upon Android Beam, offering more options to share between Galaxy S III devices.”

Boom.

That fictional rep has now not only suggested that Samsung hasn’t actually limited the feature at all, but made it better! What’s more, is that the customer will probably think that’s great, even though there’s probably more of a chance that, at some point here in the near future, they have more of a chance running into someone running Android 4.0+, rather than someone who will be using a Galaxy S III.

S-Beam is indeed a feature that should sell devices, and it’s indeed worth having on the bulleted list. However, it’s a feature that I know I won’t use, and not because I don’t want to. I do want to use it! I think it’s great, especially with the whole putting the Galaxy S III devices back-to-back to share. I want to use it. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone around me who is going to buy one. I do know someone who has a Galaxy Nexus, though, so if I had Android Beam, I could be sharing with that person starting Tuesday. Now I’ll have to just use messaging and email to do it, and that’s so two years ago.

Samsung is confident that they will be selling a lot of Galaxy S IIIs, and they should be. Because I’m sure they will. But it’s that same confidence, turned just enough into overconfidence, that is limiting the Galaxy S III right out of the gate. Samsung’s decision to use NFC to pair and WiFi Direct to send may mean you can send bigger files, and share more quickly, but it also means you can’t share to the “general Android populace,” unless they all start using Galaxy S IIIs.

Yes, the Galaxy S III is indeed the device that’s bringing me back into the Android army, but it isn’t hard to see that manufacturers still make decisions that ultimately limit the handsets that are so fantastic. Just the way it goes, unfortunately.

Products mentioned