Keep it Simple, Samsung: New Galaxy Phone Naming System Review

With the unveiling of four gleaming Galaxy Android mobile phones, Samsung also announced a new naming system, aimed at helping “users simply identify the device designed to deliver the perfect experience for them,” according to JK Shin, head of Samsung’s Mobile Communications division. (May I also suggest referring to your “users” as “customers” if you really want to create a more engaging brand?)

Echoing Nokia’s move towards a simplified nomenclature (alphanumerics are the new black, apparently), Samsung is trying to get back to naming’s first and foremost function: differentiating between things. All GALAXY phones will carry the sub-brand name, followed by one of five letters to indicate its “class.” Each class may be sub-classified by specific functionality if needed.

The five classes are:

- “S” (Super Smart) – representing the creme de la creme of the Samsung portfolio (notably the Galaxy S and the Galaxy S II, both which have sold approximately a bajillion worldwide).

- “R” (Royal / Refined) — for “premium” category models that are a potent potpourri of power, performance and productivity (presumably for the more style-conscious customer)

- “W” (Wonder) –  for high-quality, strategic models, best suited for those balanced between style and performance.

- “M” (Magical) — for mid-tier models, for performance-at-a-fair-price-seekers

- “Y” (Young) – aimed at emerging markets and the kiddies who (generally) have less cash

And then each class breaks down into sub-classes, depending on “specific functionality:”

- “Pro” — indicating a physical QWERTY keyboard

- “Plus” — indicating an upgrade of an earlier model

-  “Lite” —  indicating “Long-Term Evolution” connectivity, a 4G standard, designed to increase a device’s network capacity and speed

First things first, I do applaud Samsung’s bold move to halt its avalanche of real-word names for phones (Instinct, Infuse, Nexus, Evergreen, Transform, Moment, Wave, Replenish, Suede, Zeal, Continuum, Gravity, Vibrant, Fascinate, etc.) The real-word strategy worked  – at first — in differentiating phones and making them seem more “human.” But after years of boatloads of new phones and a million more models, these names became almost as indistinguishable as the traditional alphanumeric system. You begin to wonder: what’s the point of a name — real or alphanumeric — if you don’t know what you’re talking about?

I also think it’s smart to bank on the equity of the GALAXY sub-brand, but the chosen letters for the classes don’t resonate with me (a native English speaker). They seem arbitrary and a little odd, quite frankly — especially since they represent qualities that must, but don’t successfully, translate internationally.

I’ll bet that “Magical” doesn’t mean quite the same thing in Seoul as it does in  Stockholm. And “Wonder?” Only Walt Disney might be able to come reasonably close to claiming he has a global understanding of that. “Super Smart” sounds well, just silly, and the “Royal / Refined” class is comical. Only the “Youth” class is fairly straightforward, but all of the others are too qualitative to be used as reliable means for classification and differentiation. And by not using clear criteria for classification, you defeat the purpose of revamping the entire nomenclature system in the first place.

On the other hand, the sub-classes are decently self-explanatory, except for “Pro.” I would argue that you can’t even call it a functionality, and it certainly doesn’t logically link to the idea of a QWERTY keyboard, usually a feature of lower-tier phones.

Samsung’s taking steps in the right direction, but they might want to buy different letters from Vanna, or they’re going to have reinvent the wheel again.

Overall Grade: C

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