Monday, August 20, 2012

The better question: Innovation vs. Refinement - The More/Real Blog

They currently sell 148(!) models of both traditional cellphones and smartphones. If you take just their touchscreen Android smartphones, you're still left with 43 individual products. 43! (Look at this post from Andrew Kim comparing the Apple and Samsung phone lineups. You'll get dizzy looking at the Samsung offering.)

The advantage to their continuous innovation strategy is they can try out many ideas and let the market decide what they want in a phone. This disadvantage is they are confusing the hell out of the market. Is the Galaxy S II better than the Galaxy S Aviator? Why does the Galaxy S II for AT&T have a different GUI than the Galaxy S II for US Cellular?

It also causes them to divide the attention of their workforce, makes their supply chain overly complicated, and forces them to reinvent the wheel every time they bring a new phone into production. They never get a chance to fix the problems of the first gen products because in a sense, they only produce first gen products. Look, Samsung is very successful and they make good products. If they emphasized refinement more, they could be even more successful and make great products.

Refining and building on what came before leads to better products. Simple refinements may not always yield the most exciting results, but you end up making a genuinely better product both for the end user and for your company.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

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