The Stalwart submits: Engadget has a picture of Samsung's new eight-megapixel cameraphone and of course it looks awesome, and of course U.S. mobile users won't see anything like it for years. This has been the pattern for some time. It's also a nice way to segue into the story of my recent visit to Samsung's NYC store gallery in the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle.
As of last week, they merely had a 7-megapixel model on display with an accusatory note that, yes, this was only available in Korea. When I asked why they wouldn't release something like this in the U.S., the young showroom employee (curator?) shot back with "Would you pay $1500 for a phone?". He then explained that the phone had a videocamera, TV-remote control, and electronic credit-card payment system built in to it. At that point, my answer was almost yes.
After lusting over phones, I sat down in front of an awesome 80-inch plasma TV. The same fellow explained to me that it costs $160,000 bucks and is handmade. Yes, handmade... not a term one often hears associated with consumer electronics. Here's the point, watching this TV was a better experience visually than movie theater without question. When, in several years, many consumers can get this level entertainment while sitting on their couch, it will have major implications for the film and theater industry. All that talk about movies and DVDs coming out at the same time may gain some traction when TVs are this awesome.
Finally, I took a look at the MP3 players, which looked as nice as the iPod. The man explained to me that Samsung actually wins more design awards than Apple, and that the only reason for the iPod's popularity is that "Americans are dumb and need a simple interface, while Asians intuitively understand more advanced electronics". Of course, I seem to recall iPods being pretty popular in Japan, and pretty much all over the world.
Samsung's purpose for having these showrooms is to exhibit their technological prowess, and to cement in the public's mind that they're not just a make of cheap electronics, and that their a major technological and design powerhouse. They're doing a great job. If you live in NYC, I strongly recommend heading over there for a glimpse of the future.