Is the era of the high-profile product launch a thing of the past for the technology sector?
Judging by two launches that touched the early hours of Friday – Samsung’s release of its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and Apple’s debut of its vaunted watch – consumers just might be ready to have a little less hype in their lives.
The Samsung midnight launch event in 120 countries including the UAE was, if one can gauge by the turnout of about 50 people at Mall of the Emirates, a bit of a damp squib.
“To be honest with you I have some time to kill before my movie starts at 12.15am,” said Pooyan Karami, an Iranian student in the queue. “I’m a big fan of Samsung and thought I may as well get it now as come to the mall tomorrow.
Apple, meanwhile, encouraged the faithful to order online rather than queue for a look at the pricey timepiece.
But Samsung needs the public to know about this phone – the S5 launched last year did not sell well.
The new phone, made of aluminium and glass, feels less plasticky than previous Samsung offerings, and it promises better battery life. The prices for the new series are Dh2,999 for the 64-gigabyte (GB) S6 Duos, Dh2,699 for the 32GB version; and Dh2,899 for the 64GB S6 and Dh2,599 for the 32GB version. The difference with the Duos is that has two slots for Sim cards.
Prices for the curved-screen Galaxy S6 Edge are Dh3,799 for 128GB, Dh3,399 for 64GB and Dh3,099 for 32 gigabytes.
For the S6, advance orders have outperformed the launch of the S5 significantly.
“Our pre orders are in the thousands against the S5, which were in the hundreds,” said Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer of Jacky’s Electronics, which operates the branded Samsung stores, speaking at the midnight launch.
“Gitex really helped the pre-orders and it will sell in significant numbers tonight. We have at least 300 in stock and Samsung have ensured there will be no delays in delivery building up a strong inventory. Samsung needs this phone to sell well and be perceived as, at least, an equal to its competition.”
Everyone in the launch queue who spoke to The National was there to buy the more expensive S6 Edge. Possibly the most important customer from Samsung’s perspective was the man at the front of the queue who was the only customer The National spoke to who was changing from his Apple iPhone 6+ to the new Edge.
“I think the new phone looks beautiful and life is about change,” said Farzin Fardi Fard, an Iranian music producer. “I have always been Apple but this phone has something special about it, so why not? If I don’t like it, it’s only a phone.”