Samsung’s Fruit Identity Crisis
by Bob Schwartz
Samsung wants to be an apple. What it fails to understand is that it was on its way to being a banana: basic, useful, nutritious, delicious—and ultimately way more interesting and even sexier than an apple.
Instead, it tried to be a bunch of different fruits, bigger and smaller, adding and subtracting features and flavors. In the end, it’s like one of those odd and unusual fruits that you see in Whole Foods but don’t know the name of, and don’t care because you pretty much still prefer bananas.
Okay, that’s not their only problem. They developed durable devices that worked better than well and didn’t really need replacement very often. (Apple solved this problem by convincing its tribe to switch from Fuji to Golden Delicious to Jonathan, even though they were still and all just the same fruit. Samsung couldn’t get away with this.) Samsung eliminated core features that people really liked, such as slots for a memory card. On top of that, Samsung has to deal with having a mediated channel, where wireless providers are still the last marketer and last link between them and the consumer. The feelings of most digital consumers towards their digital service providers range from frustrated tolerance to outright disgust. So having those companies as your “salespeople” is never going to be ideal.
There may not be a good solution for Samsung, at least not one that will maintain their thwarted expectations of ever-increasing sales and profits. But one thing they might do is stop thinking about apples and start thinking about why and how much people really love bananas.