Galaxy S9 flop - what went wrong and what's next for Samsung?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Galaxy S9 flop - what went wrong and what's next for Samsung?
The world’s largest smartphone vendor is also the only other key mobile industry player apart from Apple that’s been able to consistently make money over the past few years. But Samsung’s recent prosperity is largely connected with a thriving semiconductor business rather than strong Galaxy S9 or S8 sales.
 
Granted, the market as a whole is stagnating, and you could hardly call the iPhone X a runaway hit. Then again, considering the swift growth of companies like Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo, including in the Western high-end segment, simply blaming an OEM’s rut on the industry “climate”, trends, or longer upgrade cycles feels lazy.

How bad are things?


The short answer is not too bad. Not yet, and definitely not compared to other veterans, past leaders, and innovators. HTC’s smartphone division is practically dead and buried, Sony’s not doing too well either, while BlackBerry and Nokia are slowly coming back from the dead… in name only.

Galaxy S9 flop - what went wrong and what's next for Samsung?

As far as the Galaxy S9 is concerned, unofficial estimates put shipment figures at around 10 million units for the year’s first quarter, and an extra 9 mln or so during the April – June 2018 quarter. If analysts are correct, Samsung could still add 12 million or so unit shipments this year on top of the current 19 million tally, ending up with over 30 mln by the time the S10 drops.

Once again, that’s a pretty solid figure. Sony, for instance, sold less than 15 million smartphones worldwide last year. HTC’s numbers are too laughable to even discuss. Huawei, which is clearly emerging as Samsung and Apple’s biggest threat, boasted 6 million P20/P20 Pro shipments last month, previously setting a target of around 10 mln in total.

Basically, the GS9 and S9+ are the most popular Android handsets in the world (by a landslide), although they can’t compare to the iPhone X, 8 and Plus. And that’s just one side of the problem. The other, more vexing concern has to be the negative trend of the Galaxy S family.

A short history lesson


Anyone here remember the Galaxy S3 (or rather the Galaxy S III)? Released in 2012, the Android Ice Cream Sandwich-based 4.8-incher looked nothing like its 4.3-inch predecessor, racking up a massive grand total of 50 million unit shipments. Back then, there was no second model to help either, and the following year’s Galaxy S4 did great business as well, reportedly hitting 40 million unit sales.

Galaxy S9 flop - what went wrong and what's next for Samsung?

Things started (slowly) going downhill in 2014, although 2016’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge scored an estimated combined tally of 55 million units. It may feel weird that the radically redesigned Galaxy S8 and S8+ failed to connect at the same level as their forerunners, but perhaps the timing wasn’t right for the “Infinity Display” revolution.

What now?


Since the S8 didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it must have crossed the minds of some Samsung executives that the largely iterative Galaxy S9 would suffer the same fate. Or an even worse one. But that’s the problem with traditional upgrade schedules and “routine” releases. You have to do them, whether you actually have something to upgrade or not.
Don’t get me wrong, the S9 and especially the S9+ are great phones. But what exactly about them could have made a GS8 or even S7 owner instantly want them? And I mean desire them so badly that they would ignore the sky-high prices, unimpressive battery life, and impressive competition?
 
The point is the Galaxy S9 was probably doomed from the get-go. Ever since Samsung failed (again) to implement in-display fingerprint recognition technology, it should have become obvious for the company that there was nothing truly compelling about its latest flagship product.

Galaxy S9 flop - what went wrong and what's next for Samsung?

The Dual Aperture cameras are phenomenal, but the Huawei P20 Pro has three phenomenal shooters. Everyone’s doing the Infinity Display dance, Bixby is a fiasco (cancel it already!), and clearly, there was plenty of room for a larger battery. If Samsung keeps going down this road, withholding features and key upgrades for no real reason (apart from releasing two flagships a year), this hole the company is entering will get bigger and bigger until it eventually swallows the chaebol whole.

BUT the good news is all those Galaxy S7 holdouts are likely to want something else soon. Something bigger, better, fresher, and “celebratorier.” Unfortunately for Samsung, the company may not have a fanbase as devoted as Apple yet.

In other words, assuming there are 10 or 15 million people in the world still owning a GS7 or S7 Edge, no one can guarantee they’ll instantly switch to the Galaxy S10 when they get the chance. Some of them could go with a five-camera Huawei P30 instead. Or perhaps one of those eccentric bezelless devices from Oppo or Vivo. Or even the iPhone X Plus. It all depends on how bitterly these folks have been disappointed by the Galaxy S9. And of course, how great the S10 will be. You can still turn this around, Samsung, but any additional misstep could badly hurt your prospects of dominating the mobile world going forward.

Related phones

Galaxy S9
  • Display 5.8" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(31h talk time)
Galaxy S9+
  • Display 6.2" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh(35h talk time)

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102 Comments

1. Wickedsamaritan

Posts: 76; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Nothing went wrong with samsung .. it was all about consumer's need. s9 is what s8 should have been .. s10 can he seen from the horizon .. everyone waiting for the anniversary edition. I been stuck with my phone for over a year(s8+)because it's as good as the s9 without the finger print position and stereo speakers.. I will wait for the note 9

18. kevv2288

Posts: 272; Member since: Jul 30, 2015

Exactly, Samsung is waiting for the S10 to make all the changes. Why would they do it on the S9 and then have nothing new on the 10th anniversary phone? S9 is a great phone just because it didn't sell well don't make it any less great.

81. Cat97

Posts: 1797; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

The truth is that Samsung was simply caught with its pants down regarding technological advance on the mechanicals (top and bottom bezels, internal battery space etc.). As a result, there was the S9 flop with a power hungry chipset and a 3000 mAh battery while being as tall as the S7 Edge which had a 3600mAh battery. They simply ignored true mechanical innovation and then Apple came out with the iPhone X as a halo phone, which did not sell in huge numbers but moved the focus on Apple and as a result the iPhone 8 sold very well. There was also the price issue. Samsung, as usual, copied Apple. When Apple increased prices, Samsung did the same but Apple had technological advance to base their prices on, while Samsung tried to sell an upgraded S8 line for an Apple-like price. Stupid.

84. imlegitcusimthasht

Posts: 306; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

look at the iPhone 6, 6s, 7, 8 series. Lmao. I hope the next few years of iPhones won't look like the 10 for 4+ years. lol

95. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

4 year old design is selling more than the all new infinity design lmao what a shame

98. Y.S.L..

Posts: 232; Member since: Jul 03, 2018

But people who buy exclusively apple all the time are unsettling. A sense of loyalty to a multi-national, profit-driven company is just weird in my books, especially when it manifests itself in utter loyalty, a refusal to accept any alternative, an unnatural love for the product and an inability to accept that their are any flaws in the love they feel. I noticed this most strongly when the Iphone 4 had its antenna issues. People were losing reception because the placement of the antenna caused it to drop out when it was held a certain way. Apples response was: don't hold it that way. Apparently the flaw wasn't in the product itself, it was in the way the product was held by the users. The really startling thing for me was the excuses that some people made for the company during this issue. By any stretch of the imagination, this was a flaw. People were holding their phone naturally and rendering it unusable but there were those who were simply refusing to admit that Apple had made a mistake of any kind. They were explaining it away with all sorts of excuses and mitigating circumstances, all of which sounded hollow. All apples customers are morons beyond stupid They love people like you and dumbster hippies. They can never fool audiophile and smart people

99. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Damn, your L.

20. worldpeace

Posts: 3102; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

If it's a flop then iPhoneX is a flop too, since Samsung sell more S9+ than iPx in US.https://www.phonearena.com/news/Apple-Samsung-best-selling-smartphones-May-2018_id106385

29. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

That’s one month lol.

32. worldpeace

Posts: 3102; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Oh right, my bad, lol... S9 and S9+ is top 2 in April 2018https://www.counterpointresearch.com/samsung-galaxy-s9-plus-becomes-bestselling-model-surpassing-iphone-x/ Just need June report then it will be Q2 :v

34. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Your link is 3 months old.

92. worldpeace

Posts: 3102; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

It's 2 months old actually, that article posted on MAY 27, 2018. And another 1 month old article in my older post #20. They'll June and Q2 report in less than a week from now.

96. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Imbecile. This data is for month of April.

38. apple-rulz

Posts: 1926; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

Show us on the doll where Apple touched you.

42. sissy246

Posts: 7027; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Show us on the doll where Samsung touched you.

45. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Idk where Samsung touched him but this article shows that no one wants to touch Samsung these days.

58. apple-rulz

Posts: 1926; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

sissy246 you retard, your reply doesn’t even make sense. I wasn’t the one bringing up a different brand in a Samsung article.

85. sissy246

Posts: 7027; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

I wasn't necessarily talking about in this article. You are always trolling and talking s**t about Samsung.

2. surethom

Posts: 1631; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Nothing changed to upgrade from s7 or S8, no Dual camera on s9 or increased ram. I'm waiting for Nokia 9 specs.

3. chris2k5

Posts: 239; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

The S9 is basically an S8 with lipstick. Samsung is trying to fool consumers thinking they're dumb. Add that to the fact that the dual aperture camera being a gimmick (not really effective in making better photos) and making daytime photos overexposed...You have a recipe for disaster.

4. STRANG3R

Posts: 234; Member since: Sep 24, 2015

Best selling phone of Q1 is flop according to iPhoneArena

21. worldpeace

Posts: 3102; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

S9+ also beat iPhone X and iPhone 8 plus in Q2https://www.phonearena.com/news/Apple-Samsung-best-selling-smartphones-May-2018_id106385 To be fair, they need to write "iPhone X and iPhone8 plus flop - what went wrong and what's next for Apple?" article as well.

27. deleon629

Posts: 442; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

Thanks for posting this and bringing the commenters back to reality. THat’s not even mentioning the billions of dollars Samsung most likely profited via the manufacturing of components for iPhones so, technically speaking, iPhone would not have seen this much success year without incorporating Samsung.

31. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Dude, half of the phones on that chart are iPhones. The iPX, which was SIGNIFICANTLY older than the S9 series was neck and neck with Samsung’s top flagship in sales. Hell, the bezel kingpin iPhone 8 was outselling it, and none of the components inside are made specifically by Samsung. Don’t be delusional.

104. deleon629

Posts: 442; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

Ummm, newsflash...The iPhone X has a Samsung screen, though...

36. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Can you really not see? iPhone 8 plus stands ahead of Samsung Galaxy S9+. That's a shame cause it's 8 months old device, big bezels, no infinity design, no QHD display, no dual aperture camera. Here's your L.

43. sissy246

Posts: 7027; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Exactly, the iPhone is 8 months old and a phone that is 4 months old is right there with that 8 month old phone that has had time to sale more.

46. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

This report comes out every month.

48. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

She's illiterate, unfortunately.

51. Y.S.L..

Posts: 232; Member since: Jul 03, 2018

The iPhone in particular is a totally mainstream product. And the iPad invented and now dominates its category like no other product in the history of consumer electronics. So the edge has been taken off some of the pro-Apple hate. But it’s added something to the anti-Apple hate camp. Why? Because if you believe (as the anti-Apple haters do) that Apple steals other people’s ideas, doesn’t invent anything, succeeds only through pretty hardware and manipulative marketing, then Apple’s success is undeserved — a wrong that must be set right. Apple must die Rip, before more innocent humans become zombies, that Apple will control them, instead off providing human rights.

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