Samsung could bring forward the release of the Galaxy Note 8 because of poor sales of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. That’s the intriguing prospect being reported today by South Korean sources, with September 10th reported as the release date.
While I’d question the definition of early, the choice of September 10th has just the right amount of South Korean risk-taking that makes sense.
If you want early, then look at last year’s schedule. In 2016 the Galaxy Note 7 was announced on 2nd August and on sale to the public on the 19th August. This was seen as an earlier than expected launch, and it offered Samsung a relatively unopposed run at the digital front pages of the Tech Press during the announcement, the preview period, the first reviews, and the release of the handset. If all had followed the plan, it there would have been two weeks of positive stories about the Note 7 before Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus would turn up to dominate the pixels.
Irrespective of what happened to the Note 7 afterwards, the press management around the early launch worked a dream, but with two flaws. If Samsung could address these why wouldn’t it decide on ‘same again please’ once the two flaws were addressed.
Take note of the dates of Berlin’s IFA. The electronics jamboree runs from September 1st to September 6th. Although the launch of a Galaxy Note handset used to belong to IFA, Samsung has moved towards organising its own launch events of the phablet in the last few years. Nevertheless IFA can still be used to increase the contact between the press and the new Android device.
I cannot see Samsung taking the risk of hiding the Note 8 from the IFA crowds, which means that the announcement has to be before the start of the Berlin show. That suggests and ties in with reports of an August press launch for the phablet.
Then there’s that awkward gap last year as the Note 7 coverage moved out of the launch period. That allowed excitement for the new iPhone to build up, and the expected comparisons of the Note 7 to the upcoming iOS devices never appeared. I’m assuming that Apple will go for a date early in the second week of September for the iPhone reveal as the US press return from IFA, which points to Tuesday September 12th.
With August 26th previously mentioned as the launch date, that would give Samsung its typical two-week window between the launch event and the retail release to seed review units and marketing campaigns. It puts the South Korean phablet in direct competition with Apple’s launch.
The alternative is to risk waiting until after Tim Cook takes to the stage with the iPhone 8. A late reveal of the Note 8 would mean losing three or for weeks of retail presence and handing first mover advantage to Apple. There’s an argument to be made that choosing to run last allows you to counter the competition’s moves, and it allows stocks to build up for a wider release.
But if the Galaxy S8 and S8 plus sales are starting to falter, Samsung may not have the luxury of waiting. If the Note 8 is ready to go at the end of August, then the South Korean company should be aggressive and directly take on the iPhone.
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