Now I’ve been reading up several devices, trying to find out if there’s a perfect device out there. The results were exactly as I expected, there are no perfect devices. So the question is, why is this? Why can’t some company just make a killer device that does everything the users want. Just how bad is the Samsung Omnia HD (that I had to write a 32 page report on) or the iPad, which has been described as a fail even before its launch?
I did a bit of research on the matter and to cut a long story short, it’s all about cost and time-to-market. The demand for consumer electronics has grown quite significantly over the the years. This creates tremendous pressure on product manufactures such as Samsung.
Growing reliance on consumer electronics = need for shorter development cycles + a need for the different divisions to work closer together.
For instance, consumer electronics(CE) producers can design and develop products faster than Integrated Circuit(IC) suppliers can design the necessary chips. So the success of the CE industry is dependent on how well these two can work together.
Now, product life cycles are becoming shorter and competition more intense. The methodology that IC designers use is cost-effective, they have a lengthy design cycle so they try to anticipate what the CE producers and the consumers may want. IC designers also lack flexibility, they freeze the circuit design at a certain point for manufacturability. CE manufacturers approach projects opportunistically with flexible ideas since they work more closely with the consumers. This disjunction results in most of the problems we see in products. You can read more on these and other issues on the KPMG website.
The Samsung Omnia HD was never meant to support 720p video recording, the hardware is simply not capable of producing up-to-standard 720p performance. Development of the hardware for the Omnia HD was concluded sometime in late 2008 yet mobile phones capable of HD recording, like the Sony Ericsson Vivaz, are only starting to come out now 2years on. That alone says a lot when considering that just 2 months can make a world of difference on the consumer electronics scene. An article on Gizmodo quoted Steve Jobs as saying this in 1994 (in the image below):
In the consumer electronics market, it’s all about speed-to-market, it’s either you’re going to be an innovator, pioneering new technologies and winning lots of customers or you’re going to be a follower, trailing behind at the tail end of profit. But at what expense? The Omnia HD is my favorite example since it had so many ‘firsts’. First Symbian smartphone: capable of HD video recording, with a large 3.7″ AMLOED display and with a capacitive touch screen. The Samsung i8510 Innov8 before it had a similar fate, it was the first mobile phone on the market with an 8MP camera but it was plagued with severe video lag and poor sound, issues that were never resolved. So the devices that make it first to market with ‘never before seen’ features are rife with problems. Those ‘improved’ products that come after them suffer from poor sales and they are poorly supported by the manufacturer as a result.
So it’s a never ending cycle that comes down to software. The iPhone is an example of typically poor hardware(no front facing camera, removable battery, camera flash etc.) but awesome software to try make up for it. The Apple iPad may have that same strength when compared to the JooJoo for instance. Given that the i8910 has an exciting year of support up ahead, it remains to be seen whether or not Samsung will step up and fix all the wrongs.