Samsung finally took the wraps off its Galaxy S4 smartphone this week, holding a glitzy launch event in New York where it detailed all the amazing innovations.
While the S4 has some interesting additions to the software, and no fewer than eight cores for souped-up performance and battery improvements, Samsung also seemed keen to tout the device as an ideal enterprise smartphone, with the firm's head of mobile J K Shin referencing its business benefits early on during the event.
Samsung is sensible to take this line. The bring your own device (BYOD) craze has taken the corporate world by storm. Any right-minded smartphone provider will soon realise, if they haven't already, that to get the big bucks, the best marketing strategy is to promote your device as super-cool and much coveted to get individuals to want it, while at the same time outlining how secure and reliable it is, to allay any IT manager concerns.
So when the IT department starts getting bombarded with requests from executives to upgrade them to the shiny smartphone of the moment, or staff start trying to connect their work email accounts to their mobile, the IT manager can sit back and relax, knowing that the phone manufacturer has already done their job for them.
Samsung had the ideal opportunity on Thursday night at Radio City Hall to reveal any intentions it may be harbouring at becoming the de-facto BYOD choice. And the firm is certainly in a good position to play this card. The S4 will be the first device to feature Samsung's new Knox technology, which sounds like an intelligent and useful update to the Android platform to overcome the BYOD security quandary.
Employees are happy as they get to use the S4 as their work device, with all the cool bits like Smart Pause and Dual Camera. And IT teams are happy as the device has plenty of security features built in to stop data leaks and malware. Better still, the S4 can be split into two distinct areas, one for personal and one for work use only, with the latter locking down all the corporate apps and data stored on the phone.
But at the event Samsung decided to put all its focus on the typical consumer features, which are actually not that much different from what’s available on pretty much every other smartphone on the market. Just a miniscule amount of time was devoted to Knox throughout the rest of the event. When the official S4 press release was issued by Samsung, the only reference to business was buried right at the bottom in the specs section, in the form of “Samsung Knox (B2B only)”.
In fact, the whole theme of the launch event, with the hammy acting, alcoholic desperate housewives and 10-year old precocious brat, screamed forced entertainment and fun, with not a whiff of professionalism in sight.
Compare this to the Apple approach. The iPhone doesn’t have a Knox-style feature to help sell it into the enterprise. But when Apple launches a new phone, the focus is on the technology, which is outlined in great detail by a series of enthused but appropriate spokespeople. It might not be the most exciting approach, but it leaves people with nothing to talk about but the product itself, rather than reliving the hectic spectacle at Radio City Hall.
For IT managers, the Apple approach is perfect, giving the overriding sense of a professional outfit that can be trusted for serious business tasks. Whereas I doubt many IT workers watching the S4 launch came away with the impression that Samsung is the perfect mobile choice for their organisation. Ironic really, considering the work the Korean manufacturer has done with Knox to make the S4 fit for business.
Madeline Bennett is editor of V3 and The INQUIRER. Previously, she was editor of IT Week. Prior to becoming a journalist, Madeline was an English teacher at a London secondary school. Madeline is a regular technology commentator on TV and radio, including Sky, BBC and CNN.