Commentary

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Ryan Michael Downey

The Samsung HomeSync is on the loose. The Korean company released the item with much fanfare but the device was panned ahead of its sales debut by tech and Android fan boys because most of the features associated with the Android based system can only be utilized by a Samsung device. The new set top device has many strong features for those connected to its ecosystem but this comes at a cost and I don’t mean the $300.00 price tag. The cost may well be the wrath of the Android community.

So Close Yet So Far Away
Samsung has either launched a product that will put it on the map in what is emerging as the great new media market of this age or next year’s list of products that tech sites will be sighting along with the smart watch as major flops of the year. If the buzz on message boards is any indication of the public reaction as a whole then Samsung is in trouble. On numerous sites announcing the launch there are pages and pages of negative comments from jilted Android fans who have been waiting for a product that would do for Android fans what Apple TV has done for Apple users. This could have been the product, but instead it excludes every other Android phone and tablet. This is just one of the problems that may prevent an otherwise solid device from succeeding. There are many others.

Fickle Fans
Why did Samsung limit a device that might have been very popular with a large base of fans of the platform? While Samsung is building the most popular Android products on the market at the moment it is only the current standard bearer. Tying the HomeSync to the Galaxy line of phones and tablets means that those products have to remain relevant going forward in order for the product to succeed in the long run and there is no guaranty that this will be the case. Only two years ago or so the HTC Evo was the most coveted Android device. Meanwhile there are many other Android based smart phones and tablets on the market and a lot of them are tied to their customers with contracts. So there may be people who want to buy the HomeSync but will not simply because it will be useless. By the time someone is eligible for an upgrade the HomeSync may not even be found on the shelves anymore and the Samsung Galaxy line of products may be old news. They may however decide to purchase a streaming device that can be utilized by their current phone like the far less expensive Chrome Cast.

Non Exclusive Press Coverage
The trick with releasing a product in the streaming market is that the product has got to generate major buzz. The Chromecast had a huge rollout but its lack of apps is starting to hinder the enthusiasm surrounding it. On top of that every new product is compared to all of the other products on the market. Most independent publications and websites are going to look at HomeSync and put it side by side with the Roku, the Apple TV the Chromecast. There is are even other streaming boxes with 1 terabyte hard drives to compare it to such as Western Digital’s line of products. The only exclusive advertising that Samsung will get from this launch is its own.   As Roku CEO Anthony Wood has said when new streaming products enter the market it invites those who are not familiar with the concept to explore the options.

Apple Gets Away with A Closed Ecosystem Why Not Samsung?
Apple doesn’t have customers it has a culture, some even call it the cult of Mac. Apple fans are like Treckies and they will approach any new product from the company ready to love it. Because its products have usually broken new ground and people have been willing to pay a premium for them.  Samsung has tried to copy the look and feel of the iPhone to such a degree that Apple sued their competitor and won.  What Samsung cannot copy is the enthusiasm that Apples fans feel for the company. Apple built its ecosystem organically by providing the public with products that caught its imagination.

Price

At $300 the HomeSync is by far the most expensive set top device. It costs $200 more than the Apple TV and the Roku 3. There are numerous other set top devices on the shelf at consumer electronics stores that sit under the $100 mark including the Roku LT, Roku 1 and Roku 2, the Western Digital Live, The Date Night, Neo TV and so many others.

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