We chat to Samsung Marketing Director Ines van Gennip about the future of the smartphone, and why she thinks smartwatches have so much potential...
As you may have noticed, Vodafone Social is even more jovial than usual this month. That’s because we’re three years old this April, and loads of our good friends and partners from around the world of mobile have joined us to celebrate!
Fresh off our chat about the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, Samsung’s Ines van Gennip is back to give us some real insight on the state of the mobile market, and where Samsung fits in.
Ines van Gennip | IT and Mobile Marketing Director UK & Ireland, Samsung
Although my job as Marketing Director isn’t solely devoted to mobile tech, mobile is an enormous part of what we do at Samsung.
For starters, it’s an absolutely massive area for innovation. As a word, ‘mobile’ has come so far in an incredibly short space of time and the mobile phone of ten years ago was a completely different device to the smartphone of today. Not only that, but ‘mobile’ isn’t just about phones anymore – it’s about tablets, smartwatches, fitness bands and all sorts of other wearable tech.
Consumers affect everything that we create at Samsung. And for the most part, it’s a simple story – we focus on what our consumers want, and then we work out how to provide them with the best solution.
We do an enormous amount of incredibly thorough research to see what our consumers want and need from their phones, and everything we create is packed with first-to-market features that haven’t been developed by any other manufacturer, based on that research.
Look at the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge for example – they’re two of our flagship mobile devices, and we’ve packed them with loads of new technology that no-one else is using.
“We’re not interested in innovation for innovation’s sake…”
We listen very carefully to what people say about their mobiles and how they use them, and if our users really value our innovations we’ll continue to develop it. We’re not interested in innovation for innovation’s sake, if users don’t like it, we’ll find a way to change that or we won’t develop it any further.
You just can’t work like this by following your competitors, you need to constantly innovate yourself and really be at the forefront because if you’re not, you’re always chasing the pack.
That’s not to say we don’t care what our competitors are doing, but there’s a thin line between knowing what others are doing and letting that affect your own decisions. Think of it like making a recipe – you’ll read other recipes and see how other people use certain ingredients, but at the end of the day you make the decision on how you want to do things.
I’m often asked if we’re coming to a plateau in terms of smartphone innovation, and I don’t think we have. There are more smartphone users than ever in the UK; there’s far more choice for those users than there was say, five years ago; and we all still want the latest technology in our pockets. As long as that’s the case, you’ll still see us investing heavily in new technology and devices.
Ultimately, that’s why we see so much potential for the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edge – they’re two devices that are full of all our best new ideas. And now that they’re on sale, we’ll listen to the response and use that to guide our next wave of devices.
The most exciting bit of this area of course, is that tech is always changing and always evolving. I can honestly say I have no idea what we’ll be making in a few years’ time – if I did I’d be living on a beautiful island somewhere!
That said, I do think that wearable technology will be a considerable part of our future, though. 2014 was the year of the wearable, but that whole area is still incredibly popular this year. We do a lot of studies on wearable tech, and whilst fitness and activity trackers are hugely popular, smartwatches are still very much a competitor to those devices.
Activity trackers are an easy way into the wearable idea for lots of people, but the smartwatch is the device with the potential to grow and evolve into something amazing.
“I do think that wearable technology will be a considerable part of our future.”
It’s fair to say that the reaction from consumers and press alike to smartwatches has been pretty apathetic thus far. It’s difficult to say why that’s the case, but the important bit is to take all that feedback into account, and use it to inform our next devices. If we’re doing our jobs right, we’ll develop something much better that provides solutions to people’s problems and actually enhances people’s lives.
It’s a bit of an education piece as well. We’ve done a lot of work with Google, and if you look at the search entries around wearables, most of the searches are questions, like: How does it work? What can I use it for? When is it most functional?
Most people don’t yet understand that whole area and that’s a challenge for everyone that works in the industry; we need to develop solutions that people can understand and use really easily.
It’s especially crucial that we listen to customers when it comes to smartwatches, and really find out how they use them but that varies widely for different people. I met a lady the other day who explained to me how she uses her smartwatch to check her phone when she’s out cycling – she can just have a quick glance at a text message or if someone is calling her and if it’s urgent, she can pull over. So for her, that’s really useful technology, but realistically there are thousands of useful ways people can integrate smartwatches into their lives. Our job is not only to create new innovations, but really get across the situations they can be used in, so consumers can get the most out of wearable technology.
We’ve been working hard on these things for a long time now and I‘d love to be able to reveal them to you all now, but that would be giving the game away! All I can say is that you’ll just have to wait and see!