Samsung’s mobile chief DJ Koh announced “a new era of smartphone design” in late March, and the company aims to deliver with new services set to drop when the phone starts appearing in stores at the end of next week.
Gone are the bezels, or frames, holding the cover of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+. They have been replaced by an “infinity screen” with curved corners to give an open look with more room for display.
Also new are increased opportunities to bring local marketers closer to consumers with a new “intelligent interface” for a more interactive mobile experience.
Samsung wants to take the mobile experience a step further with Bixby, its voice assistant that has “contextually aware” capabilities that can help personalize location, retail and other user experiences.
The market for virtual assistant devices is competitive these days — with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, LG Hub Robot, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri — but good marketers can work with Samsung on Bixby to get marketing contextual services, says Maribel Lopez, principal and founder of San Francisco-based Lopez Research.
“If you have a flagship phone, like the one that was just announced, you have marketers (seeking) to deliver their clients’ experience on those devices,” she says.
The new smartphone raises possibilities for local marketing. At launch, Bixby will work with Samsung apps and Google Play Music, and more will be added over time. There will be a dedicated Bixby button on the back of the phone that can be accessed by using your voice, pressing the key or through the camera app.
In addition to virtual assistant Bixby, marketing areas ripe for exploring on the new Samsung Galaxy S8 include Samsung Pay and location.
Samsung Pay Finds Place in Mobile Payment Space
Launching in South Korea in October 2016, Samsung Pay has tapped consumers around the world who have used the mobile wallet to change the way they make purchases. Samsung estimates $240 million in purchases, so far, and the company expects the figure to continue to grow. (Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay already have a foothold in the mobile wallet space.)
Samsung Pay was released with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the smartphone pulled from the market last year after batteries caught fire.
The mobile wallet offers an easier, safer and more streamlined way for consumers to pay for their purchases by storing passwords and using biometric data such as your fingerprint or by facial recognition, via Samsung Pass.
Lopez says there’s simple proof that adopting Samsung Pay could work for smartphone-conscious consumers: “If your phone is out of your hands for a few minutes, you’re like, where is it,” the mobile technology expert says. “No one else is going to go on a shopping spree with your phone, most likely … [But] it’s taken marketers and merchants a while to adopt it.”
Good local marketers can work with Samsung on Bixby and get marketing contextual services, she said.
“The concept is not pulling out your credit card,” Lopez says, “so in many ways it can be a more secure transaction because of the way the data is transmitted. You’re not giving someone your credit card, you’re not losing your credit card. It’s far easier than anything we’ve been doing recently.”
Location Will Drive New Business
Sriram Thodla, senior director, Services & New Business at Samsung, said during the March release event that Bixby understands context.
If the user points the camera at a product, Bixby will find the item from one of Samsung’s partners, so the user can search for images, learn about landmarks, shop online and even translate languages. The smartphone also knows when it needs more information.
Bixby can take users to a contextual personalized page based on the information you use from your apps and what it continues to learn about the user’s interests, situation and location.
“I think the problem with location is always discovery,” Lopez says, pointing to marketers having access to your data. Users would need to be willing to share their data in order to get the right experience based on what’s near you and in context with what you want, she says.
“I also think that it’s a concept of timing,” says the author of Right-Time Experiences: Driving Revenue with Mobile and Big Data.
So, for instance, Lopez says, with a supermarket app, it might be a good time to send a coupon for a rotisserie chicken after work hours, or you can integrate with other things. Knowing the location, for instance, marketers can “incent” users with a promotion for Uber to help carry groceries home.
Mobile marketers must walk a fine line to make reaching out more contextual to users and not an annoyance.
Preorder sales are already underway, and the new Samsung phones will be officially released on April 21, with a starting price of $750 for the Galaxy S8 and $100 more for the S8+.
Nancy Ayala is a Street Fight contributor.