The days don’t come much bigger than
today in the tech world. A triple launch day with the two largest phone
manufacturers in the world involved. At 8am today, Samsung launches the Note 8.
After the massive failure of the Note 7 and the complete withdrawal of this
phone from the market, make no mistake about it, this is significant for
Samsung. One mistake can be dismissed as a simple mistake. Two mistakes points
to systemic issues. The entire reputation of Samsung can be destroyed if this
phone displays any technical issues. Having said that, the initial reports and
specifications of the Note 8 look fantastic. Samsung don’t typically boast
about opening sales figures in the same way that Apple does but the Note series
has proven to be a popular line of phones from Samsung (excepting the 7) and
the new model is eagerly anticipated. I expect strong – if not mind-blowing –
sales for Samsung over this opening weekend.

iPhone launch weekends are always big
events. Until last year, Apple would boast about the sales they would do on the
first weekend of a launch (a weekend being 3 days). In 2012, the iPhone 5 sold
five million units across the nine countries where it launched. In 2013 the 5s
and 5c racked up nine million in eleven countries. By 2014 the 6 and 6 Plus hit
ten million across ten countries and the following year the s versions of the 6
hit thirteen million in twelve countries. Think about that for a moment.
Thirteen million phones over a maximum of 72 hours equates to more than fifty
iPhones being sold every single second. That is big.

You may notice that I haven’t quoted
first weekend sales for the iPhone 7. Apple said last year that they were going
to stop quoting opening weekend sales figures for some vague reason. Analysts
believed it was due to the fact that supply could not keep up with demand and
the figures would therefore be lower than in previous years – causing a drop in
the share price. Whatever the reason, I am certain that Apple still sold
millions of phones on launch weekend last year.

For the first time since the iPhone
launched in 2007, this year might see the first drop in first weekend sales.
The market is a little confused. Analysts talked about the potential launch of
an iPhone 7s or an 8 or maybe a tenth anniversary called a 10. Apple took a bit
of a bet each way and they have performed a double launch – which is just going
to confuse everyone.

The replacement model for the 7 –
which based on previous years would have been the 7s – has been called the 8.
This is a small step forward with many minor improvements and two major
improvements – the 8 has a Blue Tick for reception and has wireless charging.
At the same time Apple launched their anniversary product – called the X –
which is a significant step forward. The problem for Apple is that it isn’t
available today. It won’t be available until 3 November.

Therein lies the dilemma for the
Apple faithful. Do those committed to Apple line up overnight outside Apple
stores to get the 8 – knowing it is only a stop-gap until the X is launched in
a little over a month or do they wait for the X? I am sure Apple will hope they
do both but given the largest memory X retails close to AU$1900 a monthly
upgrade starts to get a bit hard to justify.

Whatever way you look at it, days
like today can only be good for consumers. Major manufacturers battling it out
for the hearts and minds of consumers means one thing. Better products for all
of us to use and hopefully the competition drives prices down.

Mathew Dickerson

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