Samsung says it listens to you; Galaxy S7's back to the future features offer proof point

Samsung's DJ Koh, chief of the company's mobile unit, says the company aims to listen and understand what its customers want. Can a large company really deliver?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Samsung made the case that it listens to customers, understands you and iterates based on the experience that you want.

The case, made by Samsung's DJ Koh, president of the consumer electronics giant's mobile unit, is part of an effort to humanize the massive company. That experience and listening vibe is also what Samsung hopes will be the software glue that ties together everything from its Galaxy smartphones to its smartwatches, virtual reality gear and Internet of things end points like appliances.

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"Samsung has learned to listen and understand what you want to connect you to the experience you want," said Koh, who used to be in charge of the KNOX security platform and Samsung Pay. Koh talked about how Samsung would bundle its products--a Gear VR comes as a gift for a Galaxy S7 preorder--and integrate them.

First look at Samsung's Galaxy S7, S7 edge: Launch day at MWC 2016

Here's a look at Samsung's Gear 360 VR camera

"We are human in our effort to listen," said Koh.

The listening rap is interesting given how much enterprises are trying to appear to listen to customers, but fail (miserably in some cases). The big question is whether Samsung can prove its listening and iterating based on what its customers (enterprise and consumer) want.

So far, Samsung is off to a good start with its listening proof points with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. Why? Samsung brought back many of the features that customers griped about when they were removed.

To wit:

  • Samsung put in bigger batteries in the S7 relative to the S6.
  • The company brought back the MicroSD card slot.
  • Samsung improved the edge panel on the Galaxy S7 edge although it's still unclear whether developers will actually create killer apps for the panel.
  • According to Samsung execs, the Galaxy S7's software experience and tweaks to the screen size are aimed at one-hand usage.
  • Samsung touted water resistance in the Galaxy S7. That feature is a bit back to the future too since the Galaxy S5 had it.
  • The company focused its camera effort on low-light pictures with software tweaks.
  • And Samsung has liquid cooling in its phone, which means the phone won't get hot with high performance apps.

Whether Samsung rallies behind Koh's listening mantra remains to be seen. It's a challenge for all large companies, but may be more critical for Samsung, which has to fend off low-priced rivals from China, keep its installed based and fend off Apple. It's a tall order, but for Samsung to sell customers on its ecosystem it'll have to prove it can listen, iterate and innovate.

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