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How many phones (and tablets) should Samsung have?!

I wanted to know just how many phones and tablets Samsung has at the moment. Fortunately, Which? Tech Daily has already done the numbers, and here’s what they came up with: 26.

Image via Which? Tech Daily

Note that these are just Android Galaxy phones. It doesn’t yet include devices for Windows 8 or other operating systems. Oh, and it still doesn’t include the regional phones such as their new DUOS series. But already, it’s quite a handful. And this doesn’t even factor in color variants.

So is Samsung on the right track? Or is it suffering from product stretch?

Why it matters

Every new product that Samsung adds to its portfolio represents added costs, including R&D, manufacturing, logistics, inventory, and even advertising. These kinds of expenses tend to pile up fast.

It wouldn’t really matter if each product in the mix appeals directly to a specific target market. Say, you have a sporty phone, a luxury phone, a photographer’s phone… This way, there’s a clear reason for each model, and a clear market with clear needs.

The problem with these 26 products, however, is that the market lines are rather blurred, and one product could easily cannibalize the other’s market. For instance, should I get the 7.7″ Tab or the Note 8.0? Should I go for the Galaxy Ace or the Galaxy Fame? Should I go for the Tab 3 or the Note 10.1?

According to Dan Ariely, studies show that people can tolerate only six kinds of products when dealing with variety, as in when they contemplate between six flavors of ice cream. More than six? It becomes way too confusing and the market may even be turned off and choose not to buy altogether.

On the other hand, Samsung may be trying to do an encirclement strategy, the way Seiko swamped the market with affordable watches when it was ought to seek blood in the 1970s. Flood the market with variety and consumers will forget about all other brands!

So how many products should Samsung actually have for its Galaxy line?

Here’s my take.

First, forget about the variants such as the Mini, Active and Zoom. They’re just noise. If I buy an S4, I want my S4 to already have a killer camera and water proofing. And if I wanted a smaller phone, I’d just get a, well, smaller model. So now if you’re launching the future Galaxy S5, it will be just one phone, the S5. And it will have amazing photographic skills and is dust- and water- and shock-proof.

Next, set up the product classes. You got the entry-level Y series with small screen and highly pocketable. You have the value-priced but reasonably powerful phone with dual SIM slots (which is kind’a missing from the picture for now but can be represented by a decent 4-inch DUOS). You have the Note series for premium stylus-based phoning with a huge screen. And you have the premium phone (right now the S4 but eventually the S5).

And then the tablets. How many do we really need to see? You have the 7-inch, the 8-inch, and the 10.1-inch. Forget about having a Note series and a non-Note series. All tablets should henceforth be Notes. In fact, under this new direction, even the Note 2 should technically be under the tablet line then.

So how many do we have now? Just seven.


Come to think of it, having just seven Samsung products will make this a boring place to be in. I take it back. Samsung, enjoy your sprawl.

And while you’re at it, hey, can you see if you can cook me up a nice 13-inch Galaxy tablet that can do double-duty as a second monitor?








Art is a long-time editor for a number of technology publications. He is a Palanca-winning writer (he got lucky) whose day job is to try to be as serious as possible while being a management consultant and lecturer. His favorite noodles: chapchae.

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