Highs and lows for Samsung in 2012
21st Dec 2012 | 14:00
It's been a busy year for Samsung, so here's the good - and the bad
It's often said that God works in mysterious ways. And for those who believe in the afterlife, the thought that the late Steve Jobs may have been upstairs whispering into the ear of the big man isn't hard to imagine.
After all, it's been a busy year for the South Koreans, from innovating to litigating - and finding $1bn down the back of the sofa to pay a fine to Apple.
How things has changed since Samsung came onto the scene years ago with the dual-screen A300. Now, they're, debatably, the market leader in tech.
Here, we take a look at their highs and lows of 2012.
1. The Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy Note 10.1
Love them, or hate them, there's no denying that 2012 has given us probably the best portfolio we've seen from Samsung.
When the much-anticipated Galaxy S3 was announced earlier this year, it wasn't at CES or MWC like its peers.
Such was the excitement around it, Samsung was able to hold its own event, taking a cue from arch-rival Apple, because it was so confident the crowds would come specifically to see what was on offer.
The day of launch came and we were there to see the queue at the Samsung store in Stratford. It may not have been iPhone length, but it was pretty big.
It's still at the top of our list as best phone. The punters agree – Samsung managed to ship 18 million of the things in the third quarter of this year.
And don't get us started on the Note 2, which we reviewed and found to be one of the best devices out there.
Even the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet has managed to sell impressively – despite having a fairly lower-resolution screen than those we've grown accustomed to.
2. Beating Apple (to an extent)
Naturally, this annoyed Apple.
Remember how Steve Jobs threatened to "go thermonuclear" on Android because he felt it was a stolen product? Well, as Samsung got bigger, Jobs' ire (and that of Apple after his demise) appeared to shift less from Google and more to Samsung.
Things like S-Voice didn't help the issue (come on – who thinks that isn't Siri rebadged and made into a more rubbish product?)
The legal toing and froing has made us dizzy and reminiscent of a game of ping-pong, with a £652m ($1.05bn) fine in place of the ball.
But the sweetest part of Samsung's fight will have been the victory it scored in forcing Apple to publish an apology on its website. Not just tucked away anywhere as was originally the deal – but on the UK front page, no less. Ouch! And it's still there, for all to see as they head to Apple online to buy their Christmas presents. Double ouch!
3. Giving us the first Galaxy Camera
Nobody (even Cupertino) could accuse Samsung of not being innovative.
Sure, a lot of things in Android (and TouchWiz) are similar to those found in iOS, and vice versa. Who invented them is a whole other story.
But the newly launched Galaxy Camera has been a great creation.
Again, Wi-Fi enabled cameras aren't new – but one running 3G and Android?! Now, that is cool.
Remember, this isn't a phone with a great camera. It's a great camera with a phone added on. Or, at least, the phone functionality - without the calls bit.
Naturally, it's more of a niche device – and it's hardly sleek or cheap - but the thought of being able to edit your phones on the go and even mix up a bit of Instagram action, then tweet or Facebook them, is truly marvellous. We're currently working on our detailed review – but early indications are that it's a belter.
4. Getting a new boss
And it's not just new products hitting the shelves; it's new people at the top too. Never ones to accuse companies of nepotism, we wouldn't dream of saying that Jay Y. Lee's recent appointment to vice president has anything to do with the fact that he is the son of the chairman.
In fact, his dad, Lee Kun Hee has been the big cheese there for the last 25 years – meaning old Junior will have learned from the best. And the news went down well within Sammy circles – meaning there's every chance Jay Y. Lee will continue to build on Samsung's incredible success.
5. Golden publicity
At London 2012 the world was watching and Samsung had a front-row seat as one of the main sponsors, meaning it got even more publicity worldwide.
The partnership was highly evident during the games – and tickets to events were even given to those early adopters of the Galaxy S3 if they bought direct from a Samsung store.
A golden endorsement even came from Goldenballs himself, David Beckham, as recently as late November, when he refused to answer a reporter's iPhone at a press conference because it wasn't a Samsung product. The video went viral. PR doesn't get better than this.
1. Losing out on key partnerships
It's not been a great year for some of Samsung's partnerships though.
Apple and Samsung have long held a deal where Samsung supplies parts to Cupertino, including memory chips. But Apple was reported to be cutting its reliance on its bitter rival amid the court action that has had the two sides at such odds.
Samsung's had to make up with orders from its own handset division and so, even though it's making huge profits on its phones, it'll be taking a hit on components, which can't be great for balance sheets.
Not only that, but Google went with rival South Koreans, LG, for their latest phone offering - the Nexus 4.
While Samsung did manage to secure a Nexus tablet deal, it will have been a bitter blow after successfully holding the Nexus contract with Google for nearly two years, giving us the Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus handsets in that time.
2. Confusion over Ativ S
Samsung has also been struggling with other product lines.
Yes, Android is going great guns, but remember that motto, 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket'? Yup – that's one Samsung could be learning from, as the firm's Windows Phone 8 offerings seem to have been given the B-Class treatment.
In fact, the debut Windows Phone 8 handset from the firm has been delayed until January, according to Carphone Warehouse, which means that it's missing out on that key Christmas market. Especially galling, considering offerings from the likes of Nokia and HTC are on the shelves and that by the time the Ativ S does grace us with its presence, it's going to be nothing special in most eyes.
3. Dropping fail
You know those videos that show idiots smashing up phones that we would kill to have? Yeah, those. Well, despite our personal feelings, there was something voyeuristic about seeing which would come out top when dropped onto a hard floor.
It made sense to pitch the Galaxy S3 against the new kid iPhone 5 and, sadly for Samsung, in most cases - surprisingly - the iPhone 5 proved to be more of a hard man. It's not what we'd have expected considering the weight and materials used in both, but the proof is all over the web.
And don't say that it doesn't matter because you take care of your phone – we do too. And all the casing and protection made no difference when we dropped our S3 on a concrete floor last week, shattering the screen. Cue tears, rants, emptying of bank accounts and insurance claims!
4. Security fears
And it's not just the physical side where Apple came out top, but the security element, too. Yep, we know Apple has long prided itself on that walled-garden approach when it comes to apps (for non-jail-broken devices), which means you're not susceptible to viruses, compared to Android.
But the fear was stoked earlier this year when it was revealed that Samsung devices in particular contained a specific line of code, thanks to TouchWiz, which made them vulnerable to nasty people and their nasty plans to do bad things to your phone if they so wished. There weren't reports of any handsets actually being exploited – but Samsung was forced to rush out a fix and the publicity wouldn't have done it any favours.
5. Being blinged up – badly
You remember that scene from ET where a young Drew Barrymore gets her hands on him and dresses him up? Yeah, that feeling when you see someone walking a cat in a pair of mini Ugg boots or pushing a pooch in a pram? That's how lots felt when they saw what Swarovski had done to the Galaxy S3.
The crystal kings got their hands on a model and rushed out this concept for those with more money than sense. Yours for a snip at £2,099 - but bad news for the wallet. At least you get a free case with it though – so the spirit of Christmas is alive and well.