Storage – The new standard in the smartphone wars

Seconds out! The latest round is about to start between Apple and Samsung in the ongoing bout to be the heavyweight smartphone champion of the world.

In the run up to the Christmas buying season, we’ve seen a number of new phones launched at IFA this month: With Apple just launching its hotly anticipated iPhone 7, which is once again to shaking up the mobile landscape.But first out of its corner in the August of ’16 is Samsung with the Samsung Note 7, the latest addition to its popular Note line.

Reviews of the new Samsung “phablet” device have been overwhelmingly positive, with some calling the device ‘The most beautiful phone of 2016.’

Specs appeal

As you’d expect, the Samsung Note 7 oozes “specs appeal”, as do the other high-end phones launched this summer, including the new Sony Xperia, the Nubia Z11 and the Moto Z Play. What’s notable is that the majority of today’s high-end smartphones are endowed with an impressive 64GB internal phone storage as standard, in order to contend with the expansion in rich mobile content such as AI-based apps, high definition video and music streaming, higher bandwidth gameplay and augmented reality features.

But as the growing consumer demand for exciting new content and data comes up against the limitations of mobile storage capacity, is 64GB all too easy to fill? It certainly is if smartphone storage is even more limited than it initially appears to be, with part of the advertised memory taken up by the operating system and pre-installed apps which can't be uninstalled.

‘Insufficient storage available’

What demonstrates the growing significance of storage and high-spec phones is that the Samsung Note 7 not only comes with considerable internal memory, but also expandable memory that can handle up to 256GB via microSD card. And if that isn’t enough, Samsung is also offering access to 15GB of free cloud storage to support the device.

What’s clear is that storage is shaping up to be the next important function that consumers consider front of mind when choosing their next device. Consumers have had to struggle with internal storage limitations in recent years, and routinely have to delete their content, apps and data to make room for new apps and photos. For mobile users, the ‘Insufficient internal storage’ on-screen message on their phone is right up there with the universally hated ‘Unexpected item in the bagging area’ reprimand at self-service check-outs, in terms of annoyance.

Like consumers, device manufacturers are also facing tricky challenges on their side of the fence. They’re at the mercy of expensive storage, a tsunami of content and increasingly sophisticated and bloated apps that rely on internal phone memory. But all new generations of technology have teething problems in the first few years of their launch (thirty-two per cent of the UK population didn’t trust cash machines when they were first introduced).

Once the memory chip and storage makers can no longer keep up with the rich density of content and the consumer demand for new mobile experiences, with lots of new things heading our way with 5G and IoT technologies, the industry has to search for alternative solutions rather than repeatedly trying to crack the same nut.

A side order of Cloud

And with the offer of free, branded cloud storage, it seems that Samsung is onto something here. In the effort to win consumer hearts and minds, device makers and operators have the same desire to engage more acutely with customers and solve their issues and device frustrations.

This service not only increases the ‘loveability’ of a brand, it increases our loyalty. When we like something, it keeps us locked in. Allowing all consumers to move their content from device to device in seconds and activate their new devices via the cloud whilst having access to all their content immediately is a complete game changer.

The race is on to see which brands – handset or operator – can capitalise on it first. 

Ted Woodbury, VP Product Management and Corporate Marketing, Synchronoss Technologies

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