Cheesy. Corny. Dorky. All of these words typically describe a Samsung press conference where it announces a slew of new products.
But at the IFA tech show in Berlin this year, Samsung’s message — “your new normal” — was anything but cheesy because it reminded me how convenient technology has made life. Most of us will never admit it, but we all take technology for granted.
As someone who lives and breathes technology every single day, is one of the first to see the latest and greatest innovations before everyone else does, and reviews new tech products for a living, I’m skeptical whenever a new company says its new thing(s) will change our lives in meaningful ways.
Samsung’s IFA press conference is not what I would have called exciting. If you’re looking for spectacle, that’s what its Unpacked events are for.
The company announced a bunch of handful of new products like a new flatscreen QLED TV, a 49-inch QLED gaming monitor with 1-millisecond response time, an improved smart washing machine, and better connectivity for its smart fridges.
Samsung also dedicated a chunk to the new fitness-focused Gear Sport smartwatch, Gear Fit2 Pro fitness band, and the IconX 2018 wireless earbuds.
Boring, right? I could hear the yawns all around me. My left leg fell asleep several times during the hour-long event.
But anyone who thinks the takeaway was “incremental progress as usual” missed the bigger point.
The common thread running through Samsung’s IFA products isn’t any specific technology breakthrough, but the value it brings: time and convenience.
I’m sure many people attending the event rolled their eyes when a Samsung executive announced a new connected washing machine that deep cleans your clothes in half the time of a regular one.
Same for the PowerStick Pro compact vacuum. Yay, it has twin motors for sucking up more dirt and dust. Great, its handle swivels so that you can better reach under sofas and furniture. The battery lasts up to 40 minutes for continuous cleaning!
Whoopty-doo! Mom and dad tech!
You may never buy these products, but Samsung is spot-on in its message that they’ll give you back more time to do other things. Time, after all, is something we never seem to have enough of. Who’d choose to wait twice as long for their wash instead of using half of that time to do something else that’s more important? I wouldn’t.
Yes, I know faster washing and more powerful suction solve “first world problems,” but that is why consumer tech exists.
Mashable Tech Editor Pete Pachal nailed it a few weeks ago with a single tweet:
Guys, stop rolling eyes or apologizing for tech that addresses “first world problems.” That’s what consumer tech is.
— Pete Pachal (@petepachal) August 10, 2017
Just look all around you. Our smartphones, our smartwatches, our AI-powered kitchen speakers — they all were invented to to make this or that task a bit (sometimes a lot) more convenient. People freaked out over the death of the movie theater and reading when the TV was invented, but last I checked those activities were alive and well. Others argue that inventions like the Amazon Echo are silly because, “How hard is it to walk to a wall switch and turn on a light?”
That misses the point. Laziness isn’t why I use my Echo every morning to turn on my lights, check the weather, get news briefings, or play music. It’s simple convenience. Voice controls have enabled true multitasking IRL. I don’t need to pause one thing to do another anymore. In Samsung’s words, it’s “your new normal.”
Of course, there’s a price to pay for convenience. There always is one — usually a steep price, at least for early adopters. But if you can afford it, the time you get back, calculated over years, is often invaluable.