A week of launches: Samsung and Apple


It’s been a busy few days in the world of tech product launches. Last week, Samsung unveiled its highly anticipated Galaxy Gear smartwatch, then last night, Apple revealed its upgrade on last year’s best selling iPhone 5 – the iPhone 5s, as well as the ‘budget’ iPhone 5c. We examined the social conversation around each launch to see how the products were received by observers on social media.

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As you might have read in Marketing or the Daily Mail, our research around the Galaxy Gear showed it was a product that divided opinion. Of the 58,000 mentions it received on Twitter, blogs and forums, 41% were unimpressed and underwhelmed. Concern was expressed about the smartwatch’s compatibility and price. Others criticised its style, suggesting it was too big and comparing it to an iPod Nano with a wristband.

However, Samsung’s proactive efforts on social media helped to promote the perception that the product was innovative, with 49% of conversation centered around its features or innovation. The fact it can make calls and take pictures was widely mentioned. Samsung used its celebrity partners Icona Pop effectively,  with the duo describing feeling “like James Bond” wearing the Galaxy Gear, which was widely picked up on Twitter.

However, despite Samsung’s best efforts, the Galaxy Gear left many observers feeling underwhelmed. To prevent it being forgotten about when Apple launch the rumoured iWatch, Samsung need to develop a compelling narrative to stimulate mainstream interest that this is a product the general public need.

That brings us to yesterday’s announcements from Apple. As always, Apple was under pressure to deliver something new and innovative after the iPhone 5 launch last year left many consumers feeling as though they hadn’t really seen anything new.

Our research, which again you can read about in Marketing and the Daily Mail, found that with 584,000 mentions on Twitter, blogs and forums, the 5s received considerably less buzz than the iPhone 5’s 1.7 million last year. However, the 5s is essentially an upgrade and the launch of a flagship phone should always attract more attention.

However, this is where the negative launch comparisons end. Unlike the iPhone 5, conversation about the iPhone 5s was driven by its features and innovation, at 69%, in particular the Touch ID addition. This is the type of innovation that people on social media respond to.

Brand criticism of the iPhone 5s was only 5% – by contrast the iPhone 5 was 20%. The iPhone 5s launch was successful at presenting a strong narrative with its features and three metallic colours, that this is definitely an upgrade on the iPhone 5.

The addition of the colours, particularly gold, helped drive a demand for the smartphone, with 17% of conversation mentioning “I want / need the product”.  Gold helped emphasize the high-end credentials of the phone and had a positive response – viewed as “beautiful” and “sexy” by observers.

So far, so good for Apple. However, unfortunately for the brand, its ‘budget’ 5c option was not so well received on social. Of the 343,000 mentions it received, 45% of these criticised the design, with fans suggesting that the 5c is cheapening the premium image that the brand stood for.

People weren’t particularly impressed with the cost either, with commenters noting that its high price abroad might prevent it opening up new markets for the brand. The main positive takeaway was that the new colours were well received by 19% of those commenting.

In conclusion, with its eye-catching features and new gold casing, Apple satisfied fans that the 5s was a step forward from previous models. However, Apple stumbled in its first entry into the lower cost smartphone market. Whether the criticism the 5c has received will show in its sales will become apparent in coming months. What is clear, is that Apple is still the king of social conversation – for now.