Editor’s note: The Galaxy Note has productivity features no other smartphone offers as well as commercially focused security and ecosystem enhancements, says Technology Business Research Analyst Ezra Gottheil. He examines the Samsung strategy behind the device. He examines the Samsung strategy behind the device and its offerings from apps to improving productivity.  

HAMPTON, N.H. – Samsung aims its flagship of flagships, the Galaxy Note 8, at two markets. It is the top of a high-end line for consumers who either want the most smartphone Samsung offers, or who especially value its productivity capabilities.

TBR finds the other market, the commercial market, more interesting. The Galaxy Note, which was introduced earlier this week, has productivity features no other smartphone offers as well as commercially focused security and ecosystem enhancements.

The company reports businesses are increasingly considering buying business-capable smartphones for their employees. TBR believes this makes sense in many circumstances. In these situations, the Galaxy Note 8 is a very strong candidate. We predict an increase in business purchases, but it will be at least five years before business purchases constitute more than a very small percentage of the enormous smartphone market.

Nevertheless, in the rarified atmosphere of super-high-end smartphones, business purchases of the Galaxy Note 8 will contribute to Samsung’s profit and footprint and will be an early sign of the emerging commercial smartphone market.

Pushing the envelope

What is a smartphone? It’s a phone, a camera, a web access device, a music player, a map and guide, a game device, and a whole lot more. It is everything that imagination can invent that can be packed into a device small enough to carry everywhere. Samsung, with the Galaxy Note, expands the platform, substantially adding to what a smartphone can do.

Specifically, the Galaxy Note 8 is a productivity powerhouse. There are everyday productivity tasks that are easy to do with the Note that are difficult or impossible with other smartphones. These include taking notes during a phone call, sending a quick sketch to other people in a conversation, or bringing up a pair of apps in two windows. It even includes the ability to scribble a quick note, something that is often very helpful but requires several steps with most other smartphones.

The Note’s biggest differentiator, as it has always been, is the integrated stylus, the S-Pen. Samsung reports that users of earlier models divide into three roughly equal groups: those who use the stylus all the time, those who use it some of the time and those who never use it. For the Note 8, Samsung has added one new capability and enhanced another that should drive S-Pen usage.

The “Screen Off Memo” allows you to pick up the phone, slide out the pen and start taking notes. No sign in, no app selection.

The new Live Messages app allows you to sketch with the pen, enhance the sketch and send a resultant animated GIF as a message. While described as a consumer feature, Live Messages is also a productivity tool. The ability to send a quick sketch to someone with whom you are talking is like having a virtual whiteboard, without the heavy weight of virtual whiteboard applications.

These features make the user more productive. Among the other Note 8 enhancements is the App Pair feature, greatly simplifying the Note’s longstanding ability to provide a split-screen view of two applications side-by-side. Side-by-side windowing is a powerful feature, but it takes a series of operations to set it up. App Pair makes common pairings simple, greatly lowering the barrier to usage of the powerful windowing capability.

It’s all about productivity

Personal devices, including PCs, tablets and smartphones, empower us. They let us do, or make it easier to do, the things we want to or need to do. The task of the device designer is to make it easier to do these things, to get the device or the interface out of the way so we can do what we have to do or want to do.

The Galaxy Note 8 expands what we can do in productivity, for both personal and business purposes. It does it simply, giving us more power without getting in the way. TBR believes it will drive businesses to reconsider their smartphone policies, and that some businesses will choose to make their employees more productive by giving them another powerful productivity tool.