Dell Streak v. Samsung Galaxy Note: Marketing Communication’s Influence on the Rise (in screen-size) of the Modern Smart Phone.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was released last August and with it came memories of my first ever foray into android phones. In 2010 I bought my first android phone, it was a Dell Streak 5. At the time the average screen size for a phone was 2.4 inches,  The Dell Streak 5 had a then gargantuan 5 inch screen and it was marketed as a tablet which can make phone calls – a phablet. It was the first of its kind and ahead of its time and yet it failed miserably and discontinued after only a year of being released.











The following year, Samsung released the first generation Galaxy Note, an even bigger phone with a 5.3 inch display. Critics from websites such as TechRadar, CNET and Engadget gave it mixed reviews. They loved the fact that Samsung spared no expense in developing the phone, it had the fastest processor, 4G connectivity,16 Gb of internal memory, and a camera rivalling that of the iPhone 4S.

The first generation Galaxy Note had its criticisms, and like the Dell Streak 5, a lot of people questioned its size. Tech experts and critics said that they felt and looked ridiculous while making phone calls with the phone. One of them even likened the experience to “talking into a piece of toast”. Pocketing the massive phone was another issue, with critics wishing users luck in trying to get the Note in their pockets, and when they actually do get it in, trying to walk around. Some have actually suggested that unless men wore a jacket with a breast pocket, only women with purse will be comfortable carrying it around. Today, a 5-inch screen on a phone is considered normal, in fact Chris P. of reports that it is the second most popular screen size, and even Apple followed  suit and increased the screen size of the iPhone to 4.7 inches and released the 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus.

Being the first innovators of large screen cellular phones, and setting aside the difference in technical specifications of the Dell Streak 5 and the first generation Samsung Galaxy Note, just what did Samsung and Dell do differently in terms of advertising and communicating their products and their respective qualities to their respective target markets.

According to Chitty et al. effective marketing communications is able to impart a products uniqueness to its target market. Effective advertising, as stated by Iaccobucci, increases the target market’s awareness of the product or brand and at the same time is able to highlight the product’s features and benefits not present in its competitors.

Dell, in advertising its Streak 5, released the video (shown above) on both digital media and television. They decided to use “Rendezvous” as emotional advertising to “forge an emotional connection.” The commercial showed a man and a woman and the people around them using the Dell Streak 5 while they were looking for each other. It showed them using the phone for video recording, checking facebook, gaming, and maps. Things you can basically do on any other smart phone of the time. Dell failed to demonstrate the advantages and benefits of, as Ken Segall puts it, “hitting the sweet spot” between a tablet and a phone.

Samsung’s advertisement on the other hand promised to “deliver(ing) a whole new experience” with the “largest screen with smartphone portability” right from the get go. The video then continues to show the Galaxy Note being used to surf the internet, read a report, and check email with minimum scrolling and minimum screen transitions thus showcasing the advantages of having that 5.3 inch screen. Samsung then continues to showcase the productivity the Galaxy Note offers with the stylus, which complements the phone’s screen size, by showing new ways of using the maps, taking and sharing notes, and doing sketches and drawings. The commercial ends by reinforcing the benefits of the Galaxy Note with the message “With so many core on-the-go benefits. Smartphone. Tablet. Notepad. Planner. Game.”

Samsung, through the use of cognitive advertising, was able inform consumers by highlighting its product’s benefits, imagery, and positioning (Iaccobucci, 2014). It was able, with the help of effective marketing communication, to sell 5 million units worldwide in the first 5 months of production and change the smartphone market (Byeong-Wan, 2013) with a product that was ridiculed by critics for its uniqueness.


Byeong-Wan, K 2013, “Phablet Phenom: Samsung Galaxy Note Pens Best-Seller”, SERI Quarterly, 6(2), pp73-81. Retrieved

Chitty, W, Luck, E, Barker, N, Valos, M, & Shimp, T 2014, Integrated Marketing Communications, Cengage Learning, South Melbourne, Victoria.

Iacobucci, D 2013, MM4, Cengage Learning, South Melbourne, Victoria.


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