iPhone Users Can Test-Drive Samsung Galaxy for One Thin Dollar

Samsung on Friday kicked off the Samsung Ultimate Test Drive, a new promotion aimed at drawing iPhone users into its fold.

For just one dollar Samsung will provide iPhone users with a Galaxy smartphone — models available include the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, as well as the S6 edge+ and Note 5 — plus a month of cellular service.

At the end of the month users can opt to buy the Samsung device or simply return the handset and go back to their iPhone with no further obligation.

The promotion is open only to iPhone users — it isn’t aimed at attracting users of other rival operating systems or even users of other manufacturers’ Android devices.

Maintaining Its Lead

Samsung currently is the overall smartphone leader with 22 percent of global sales last quarter compared to Apple’s 15 percent, according to Gartner.

However, while Samsung maintained its overall lead, its market share was down from 26 percent in the second quarter of 2014.

The test-drive promotion could be a way to gain back some of what it has lost.

“Samsung wants to increase their market share, and they may pick up a few Apple iPhone customers who are not satisfied with Apple — but that is a thin slice of the marketplace,” said wireless analyst Jeff Kagan.

The choice of target may be an odd choice.

“Apple’s iPhone has a 98 percent plus retention rate,” noted Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

“Samsung has to do something to get people to try their device and give it a chance, but a promotion like this is not going to create a major shift in market share, as only people sitting on the fence will take them up on the offer,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “The vast majority of Apple iPhone users are very happy with their experience.”

Lonely at the Top

Samsung last year announced that it would cut the number of its handset choices, acknowledging that it had offered too many competing models. The company also wanted to cut the skyrocketing marketing costs of promoting all the options.

Samsung did scale back with this year’s offerings, but it continues to face stiff competition from Apple, as well as from rival Android devices.

“The Android landscape is crowded and will only get worse,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research manager for wearables and mobile phones at IDC.

“They can’t just sit back and say ‘We’re No. 1,'” he told the E-Commerce Times. “They have to keep the reminders out there — ‘We have a great product for people to try’ — and this is a small part of the promotion.”

Ultimate Test Time

Samsung’s promotion could backfire — first, because Apple users typically are not interested in trying out other devices.

“They are two different designs,” Kagan told the E-Commerce Times. “Samsung is doing this to shake Apple users out of the tree, but it is unlikely to be successful in any meaningful way.”

Another problem for Samsung is that it actually could devalue the perception of its own devices. Instead of seeing a bargain, the US$1 promotion could cause consumers to question the quality of Samsung’s products.

“American consumers all too often believe that you must pay a lot for something,” observed Llamas. “If you don’t pay a lot, the experience must not be as good; because how good could it be for just a dollar?”

Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and fitness-related trends for more than a decade. His work has appeared in more than three dozen publications, and he is the co-author of Careers in the Computer Game Industry (Career in the New Economy series), a career guide aimed at high school students from Rosen Publishing. You can connect with Peter on Google+.

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