Samsung Galaxy brand trumps Android in popularity contest

Samsung’s Galaxy brand is slowly becoming more popular than Android.

According to blogger Benedict Evans and a bit of Google Trends number crunching, an increasing number of people are associating Samsung’s own brand with all Android phones. Evans puts it this way: “Android is over – normals call It Galaxy.” 

In terms of brand recognition, Galaxy has already met Android and plenty of consumers simply don’t know the difference. The trend is hardly surprising, as Samsung is the top Android handset maker worldwide. Furthermore, the Korean outfit almost never mentions Android in its marketing and it spends billions on marketing every year. It is bad news for Google, as Samsung is becoming synonymous with Android phones. However, Samsung does not use vanilla Android on its Galaxy phones. It uses a heavily skinned version of its own, with the tacky TouchWiz user interface on top.

Google reps often try to make a distinction between pure Android devices like Nexus phones and Android-based devices, which run a heavily customised version of Android, like Samsung’s Galaxy gear, Amazon tablets, HTC smartphones and so on. However, since Google never did a very good job at marketing Nexus products, few consumers even know what vanilla Android is supposed to look like.

According to the Brand Keys 2013 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, Samsung is now the market leader is most categories, although it ties with Apple in some. In the past, Apple enjoyed a clear lead in brand loyalty. Brand Keys founder and president Robert Passikoff said Samsung’s success is a big turnaround.

“Samsung was always strong, but this is a bit of a switchover. It was a surprise. I guess it shouldn’t have been. I’ve been watching their advertising, and I thought it was really good,” Pasikoff told Marketing Daily. “I think they’re making real inroads.”

Pasikoff also pointed out that Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are starting to make their presence felt, due to solid brand value and integration. More and more consumers are trading in their e-readers for Amazon tablets, helping Amazon grow the Kindle Fire brand. This could be more bad news for Google, as an increasing number of consumers start to associate inexpensive Android tablets with Amazon, despite the fact that Google spent the last three quarters pushing its own Nexus tablets. What’s more, Amazon uses an even more customised version of Android than Samsung.

So, when it comes to “normals,” all Android-based devices could become Galaxies, while most if not all small Android tablets will be viewed as Kindles. For some reason Google failed to properly promote its Nexus brand, or even meet demand for some products, such as the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10. Although many people heard of the Nexus brand, very few consumers even know what the real advantages of Nexus gear are.