A close-up look at the role of a Samsung Mob!ler
In the interview below, Dom Armstrong (@dom_armstrong), gives us a great insight into the work of Samsung Mob!lers – an international community of tech experts that help to promote the latest and greatest Samsung products. Fresh off the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3, Dom is currently following the Olympic Torch around major UK cities to promote Samsung’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics. You can read more from Dom and fellow Mob!lers at SamsungGeeks.com
Hi Dom – first of all, how long have you been a Samsung Mobiler for?
I signed up to be a Mob!ler in 2010 via an advert on Facebook. In the beginning I was really dubious and thought the whole thing was a con… but over the past two and a half years, having travelled the world and had access to pre-release devices I’ve had the most amazing time of my life! It was initially touted as being a product testing and reviewing, but it quickly evolved into something with much more breadth and excitement!
Above: Dom (centre, with torch and beard) and fellow Mob!lers in Edinburgh.
As a Mobiler, how do you help to promote Samsung devices?
The main purpose of a Mob!ler is “emotional marketing”. We are given free creative reign to express our own perspective of devices and events. A lot of this is shrouded in jargon like “buzz creation” and “user generated content”, but this is really just a means of measuring success rather than what we do. We are there to engage different communities and to give honest advice and help: we all come from different backgrounds, but have an interest in technology. For the launch of the Galaxy S2, for example, I went onto xda-developers with my pre-release device and tried to let everyone know as much useful information about it as possible – this seemed to create lots of excitement and “buzz” around the device (to be fair, this was mainly because the GS2 is/was awesome), but also something useful for the community.
This is good fun for us and good for the company, many of us are technical experts in various fields and we really understand the different needs for different people. We are able to feedback both ways, and in some cases influence design tweaks and future products! …we like to think so, anyway…
Another side to Mob!lers is helping out at international events. When launching a new product, Samsung will often call on Mob!lers to help promote and demonstrate devices to VIPs and media. I’ve also been involved in some cool “extra” projects like the Galaxy Note Graffiti project which we did in Barcelona this year: we got 5 Galaxy Notes, some clever programmers and an enormous projector and wirelessly transmitted live Note-artwork onto buildings around the city.
What are the perks of being a Samsung Mobiler?
As a general disclaimer, I have to say that Mob!lers is a global programme – although we go by the same name, each country’s programme execution is different.
Having said that, I think the biggest perk of being a Samsung Mob!ler is the international community. This year there were almost 1000 of us world-wide (old and new) many of whom I now consider close friends. We constantly exchange information, rumours and thoughts about how technology is impacting and benefiting us in different parts of the world. It’s really interesting and eye-opening to be part of such an interesting community. It is also pretty much guaranteed that any form of insider information will be disseminated via our internal Facebook group. It’s a shame we’ve all signed NDAs
I’ve been lucky to travel to Samsung HQ in South Korea, to MWC in Barcelona and IFA in Berlin over the past year or so. I’ve been extremely lucky with the whole thing while being a student. I get to meet the most wonderful and kind people, and get to chat with the Samsung designers and product managers about the design process and future products.
-Do you get inside information on device releases? How long did you know about the SGS3 before it was announced/confirmed?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. At unpacked events those of us who attended will get briefed on new devices well in advance of the public/press. We normally have a fair amount of alone-time with the devices to fully understand the ins and outs of them. So far I’ve helped launch flagship devices like the S2, Tab 7.7, Tab 10.1(v), Note, Note 10.1 and Beam and have had a decent amount of information about them before the announcements.
The Galaxy S3 was an exception; although many of us were there to help out at Unpacked, the secrecy around it was phenomenal! Although I was aware of the Galaxy S3 under the codenames “Bali” and “M-Project” and had pieced together a few pieces of information from my sources, I knew very few specifics about the device other than rumours until lunch time before the Unpacked event in London. I’ve never known Samsung to be so careful with devices:
When I got there, Samsung security guards put security tape over the camera and microphones of my Galaxy Note AND then confiscated it until well after the Unpacked was over. Interestingly, most of the project managers for the support software (Ch@t On, Music Hub, S-Health et cetera) were seeing the device for the first time, too. It seems that Samsung managed to keep the S3 a secret from the majority of their (fairly high up) employees until launch day!
-How soon before release do you receive a device to start using?
This really depends on model specific marketing plans and regional marketing directions. As a rule of thumb, we never get our own device (to keep) before a global unpacked announcement. I’ve had my hands on a few prototypes and developer models, but I am ‘supposed’ to give them back…
Sometimes we’ll get something which is already released. Sometimes we’ll get it a couple of days before and sometimes a few weeks… sometimes not at all! Annoyingly, this can mean absolutely nothing, as we’re not allowed to tell anyone about it. For example, I had the Galaxy Nexus for a while before release, but Google had embargoed everything so I couldn’t publish anything useful about it. Maybe that’s why I decided to attack it with keys? Herumph!
You’ve just received an SGS3 thanks to the Mobiler programme – what are some of your favourite features?
Smart Stay, a feature which checks to see if you are looking at the device before going to the lock screen is my favourite feature, ever! I hate it when you have to keep on unlocking your phone, especially when reading. It works really well and I find it so useful – I’m not sure I can do without it!
The LED notification light is brilliant, if my phone is on silent I know that I have a message or missed call. It’s about time more phones got one of these! The “Smart Alerts” feature is another one of my favourites – if you’ve missed a call or message, the phone will vibrate as you pick it up without turning the screen on to let you know that something needs your attention. Very handy indeed!
Features like this I couldn’t have anticipated myself, I was genuinely surprised and impressed when I found out about them, and now I miss them when using other devices! I think people poo-poo the GS3’s tagline “designed for humans”, because – well all phones are! What I think Samsung have done with the Galaxy S3, and what they mean by “designed for humans”, is to make something which is more biometrically tuned to humans. Instead of presenting a device and saying “here you go – learn how to use it”, they’ve made something which offers useful and various forms of feedback… something more intuitive and organic in its execution. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Which device has the SGS3 replaced for you and how are you finding it?
My main device before the S3 was the Note. I’m trying to give the S3 a proper run, and although I am a big fan of larger devices like the Note and Galaxy Tab, the performance and extra features of the S3 is really stopping me from going back! Right now it’s a difficult decision between features and functionality. I really love the S-Pen functionality on the Note and the larger size, but things like Smart Stay and the LED notification light on the S3 really win me over.
Perhaps later this year there will be a device which has all this functionality…
Finally, what is the best piece of content that you have produced to promote a Samsung handset?
Aside from TV and press interviews, most of my content is more technically based; “here is a benchmark test … here is how you do such and such…” I much prefer the more creative aspect in video making. It’s very time consuming, but much more rewarding!
The piece of content I’m most proud of having conceived and created entirely myself was this Stop Motion video of the Galaxy Note. It took me a very, very long time to make it so I’m really happy it was so well received (mostly thanks to Clove for writing an article about it)! Off the back of this, Samsung have invited me to enjoy their hospitality at the Olympic Games this Summer, so I think the effort was worth it in the end.
I’ve been involved in some (very cheesy) but great fun videos like this “Meet in Barcelona” video we made during MWC this year. I think it’s the creation of videos like this – with a group of international friends that makes it a really good memory for me. You can see me dancing around a flat at the beginning in Stop Motion: that was a giggle!