Or as Fast Company might have you believe: "B+"
I have been meaning to write this for a wile, but it came to the forefront of my mind with Samsung's official release of details about the much vaunted (by me) Galaxy Tab, it's latest member in the Galaxy family which, with some reason, is being touted as the first possible tablet type computer with a chance of unseating Apple as king of tablet computing.
My ire stems from Sammy's release of a 3G version without a wifi only version for those of us that a) don't want another Mobile contract and b) don't want to have mobile contracts at more than one provider. (No way Samsung will let KT have their hands on the Galaxy Tab - not after another successful iPhone launch. (This time iPhone 4).
Leaks from various corners have promised a wifi-only version, as well as a 10" (iPad size) version next year.
But no word on a Korean release as far as I can see. (Anyone who reads Korean can correct me on that one).
In fact you would think manufacturers and telecoms providers are still stuck on this whole "Smartphone" kick.... So 2009!
Which is not to say I wouldn't want one if it was freely given....(Or if Samsung would like to be my Pimp.)
Now contrast that to an iPad. Seem familiar? Well yes. But is that to do with the tablet paradigm? Or is it Samsung's brilliant ability to mimic, without actually improving on the original? Reports from those who have held one are that construction is reasonably solid - but there's a certain Samsung feel about it all. Plastic replaces Apple's aluminium for instance, and te overall impression is that it's just a wee bit more flimsy. Other than that nothing really stands out as being game changing does it.
Of course Samsung has been an accomplished components manufacturer for some time - long before it's wish to take over the world of phones and tablets. You want Memory? Samsung is the place to go, whether it be NAND Flash or DDR3 Samsung has cornered the market and genuinely does an A+ job here. (Got an iPhone or iPod in the last 3 years? All your MP3s are sitting on (for the most part) Samsung flash.
And who manufactures Apple's A4 processor found in said iPads and iPhones 4?
But what of Samsung's own processor adventures? In the mobile space it's very much Qualcomm's 1GHz "snapdragon" versus Sammy's very own "Hummingbird" also running at 1GHz. The verdict on which beats which....
it's "just about as good as a Snapdragon."
No surprises there since they are both based on version 8 of the ARM processor.
And what of Cameras? Observe the Sony NEX-5
Now look at the new Samsung NX100
Need we go into the whole Galaxy S / iPhone debate?
Which is not to say that all this is a bad thing necessarily. South Korea has, in part, been brought up on the back of companies like Samsung. And it obviously makes money. But how many times has Samsung been lauded for its hardware prowess but lack of user-goodness? Its previously stated goal of beating Sony has been reached by sheer weight of numbers, not necessarily by quality - whether its build quality or UI, instead it seems content in flooding markets with B+ alternatives to other companies hits.
And least you think it's restricted to Consumer electronics:
(OK, OK... not quite a copy. The VERY successful joint venture between Renault (owner of Nissan) and Samsung is more sharing than copying...)
Now had this post been about Apple, or Microsoft or Nokia (They're still around right?) the Phanboys would be out in droves, but to add more evidence for my contentions, there aren't even Samsung phanboys...are there?
I think Fast Company says it best - Samsung seems simply happy to sit back, wait for a market to open up and then only enter in if there has already been a success. They're middle of the road three star offerings are nothing to sneeze at and provide cheaper alternatives often without a loss in quality. But they'll never be the world beaters they want to be until they start opening up new markets by themselves and start taking risks.
That Fast Company makes a few more comparisons and has a couple of good points not covered here and is well worth a read. It also catalogues a number of failures on the part of Sammy. Don't be fooled though. When it comes to TVs Samsung is the best - and a true leader in developing 3D technology at affordable prices. OK, not that affordable. Again, if anyone would like to donate a Samsung Flatscreen to Yours Truly I wouldn't say no...anyone....Hello....
BTW Samsung - as in 삼 meaning three and the hanja for star "庚". Get it? 3 Stars!?