Thursday, April 05, 2007

Samsung Brings Software Game?

I've started using a Samsung Blackjack recently, and it's a great device. I'm not gonna review it here, because there are tons of solid reviews out there, and whole blogs and fansites just on this product.

I want to talk about the interesting partnership to be observed among the companies bringing this product out.

Samsung brings fabulous hardware to the device, which is pretty much what we expect from Samsung. Cingular brings the marketing and enough data bands (GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA) to allow limited simultaneous voice and data, which is a genuine differentiator and makes an impression the first time you receive and respond to an email while you're on a voice call. Microsoft brings WinMo 5 Smartphone AKU 3+.

Samsung, though, has gone beyond the usual OEM manufacturer role. In addition to the promotional web site and the basic drivers for the hardware, they've bundled a set of apps carefully chosen to complement the Windows Smartphone OS and improve the value and usability of the phone.

User feedback has identified a number of weaknesses in Smartphone, some of which are addressed now in WinMo 6, some not. For example, in the past, users have screamed that the core app set is missing some basic PIM apps like a notepad. Never mind that you can get notepads online -- that's a step beyond a lot of consumers. So Samsung hops in with a mini productivity suite to fill in the holes: an enhanced filesystem browser, a notepad, calculator, and bunch of other stuff.

The stock Smartphone home screen has taken a lot of heat, so Samsung codes up a handful of alternates with different information densities and usability features. Need to read PDFs or Office docs? Samsung has licensed and supplied a version of Picsel Viewer -- frankly the video quality and smooth experience on this product is better than the Smartphone shell; maybe Microsoft should buy those guys!

The partners seem to be bringing their A game to the overall ecosystem around this device too: according to CrunchGear, Cingular will unlock this GSM device for free; Microsoft is working with Cingular to release an OS upgrade to WinMo 6 this year; and Cingular jumped all over early battery complaints with a pretty straightforward process for snagging a free extended battery.

Without being overly optimistic and wondering if a major shift is happening in the smartphone world, why does everyone seem to be trying so much harder than usual in this particular collaboration?

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