Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone will soon reach Metrotown
On the morning of June 20, James Politeski is in an ebullient mood. The high-energy president of Samsung Electronics Canada has come to Vancouver to whip up enthusiasm for the company’s latest smartphone, the Galaxy S III, as well as its first Canadian retail outlet. It will open in mid-July at Metropolis at Metrotown.
Sitting over breakfast at Oru with fellow executive Nelson Lemos, Politeski is eager to discuss anything Samsung-related, including a hip-hop concert that evening at Venue on Granville Street to draw more attention to the Galaxy S III. At one point, the McMaster-educated engineering and business grad jokes that he doesn’t need more coffee because he’s already feeling so energized talking about his company.
“The road right now is littered with some painful, painful stories of former giants, in whichever industry, falling on hard times,” Politeski tells the Georgia Straight. “We look at those things, and we take them to heart. We don’t want to make an arrogant mistake.”
He says that in the first quarter of this year, the South Korean electronics giant became the largest mobile-phone manufacturer in the world, “overtaking the previous number one”. You can guess who that is.
Samsung shipped 44 million web-enabled, touchscreen phones—nine million more than the closest competitor, whose name will not cross Politeski’s lips. He adds that Samsung has also maintained the largest share of global television sales for six consecutive years. The corporate colossus racked up US$143 billion in revenue last year, but suffered a setback on June 26 when a California judge granted Apple’s application to stop Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the U.S.
“We have a little over 50,000 people in R & D,” Politeski comments. “Samsung Electronics has a little over 200,000 employees. We’ve got almost 25 percent of our population that do nothing but R & D.”
So why would a company so devoted to product development want to get into the retail business with a 1,600-square-foot outlet at Metrotown? The objective, he replies, is twofold. Of course, Samsung wants to sell smartphones, which is why the store will focus primarily on the mobile side of the business. However, Politeski insists that the company also wants to use this location to generate feedback from the public about Samsung devices, which can be applied across the organization.
“We never stop listening to the customer,” he says. “Despite our size, we are a very humble company. We never get complacent, and we never think we’re ‘it’.”
He gets most animated when showing off the Galaxy S III, which launched in Canada on June 27. Politeski declares that it’s the first Samsung phone led by the company’s design team, and not the engineers, noting there are no corners, hard edges, or straight lines.
That’s not to say the Galaxy S III isn’t hard-wired for the modern world. He calls it “blazingly fast” with a “smokin’ fast dual-core processor”. To cap it off, he even claims that the Galaxy S III is “intuitive” because if the owner turns it sideways, the phone will understand that a picture is being taken.
A feature called “Smart Stay” keeps the screen on as long as a gyroscope inside the device can track the owner’s eye movements. And a “Heartbeat” function enables a person to know if any messages or texts have come in whenever he or she picks up the phone.
Just before breakfast, Lemos, Samsung’s director of channel sales and marketing in Canada, transferred a 198-megabyte film to Politeski’s phone in 70 seconds. Lemos accomplished this simply by tapping the two Galaxy S III devices together. Politeski then showed how the video can be toggled across the screen, enabling him to use other functions, such as text messaging, while still watching the movie.
On the Galaxy S III, texts can be converted into voice conversations with a simple oral command. To demonstrate how this works, Politeski looks at a stream of messages from Lemos and then barks his name into the phone. The Galaxy S III can even be used as a television converter with web-enabled Samsung television sets. Politeski explains how installing the company’s AllShare software enables the phone to turn off the TV. The TV program can continue playing on the phone if a person wants to go into the back yard and enjoy some sunshine.
Suddenly, in an unscripted moment, a customer in the restaurant walks up to the table to interrupt the Samsung president’s presentation. “Excuse me, I would like to buy one,” the man states with a smile. “I have a remote location at the lake.”
The trim, goateed executive immediately replies that the Galaxy S III is “the latest and greatest” phone on the market before mentioning the location of the new store.
“How lucky can you be?” Politeski says as the interview nears its conclusion. “This is what we get to do every day—come to work and talk about and sell and promote amazing products like this. So it’s not hard to get me wound up.”
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.