Innovation In Action: 3 Lessons Learned From the Launch of a New Tech Product

woman looking at phone in the dark

Android creator Andy Rubin recently announced the ability to pre-order the Essential Phone, a smartphone featuring a logo-less titanium enclosure, edge-to-edge display and an all-in-one magnetic port to which you can “snap” different accessories, including a 360-degree camera.

At Maru/Matchbox we are continually studying innovation, so when we saw this intriguing announcement from an upstart brand, we sought to learn something by investigating how people would react to it.

As a result, we took away three key lessons:

  1. People are thirsty for innovation—even if it means embracing an unknown brand at a premium price;

  2. Brand matters, especially to Apple lovers;

  3. Samsung’s brand is not exploding, even though its batteries were.

We used our Idea Filter methodology for quick, simple testing. We exposed American smartphone owners to a description of the Essential Phone (see below) on our Springboard America omnibus service and had results overnight. We also tested it with our Innovation Forum community.

1. People are thirsty for innovation—even if it means embracing an unknown brand at a premium price.

One in six smartphone owners said “I’d buy it” after reading the description—even though it was from a newly launched company and priced at $699.  Half also felt its features are “new and different” and that they “like it.”

That’s a very positive reception to a brand new company’s first entry in a crowded smartphone market. Clearly there is a thirst for innovative features like surviving drop tests, an edge-to-edge screen, and a 360-degree camera.

2. Brand matters, especially to Apple lovers

We were very curious to understand how the brand of the smartphone would impact interest. So, while we tested the phone branded as being from Essential, we also tested the same description with three separate samples, but branded it as being from Apple, Google and Samsung.

When the Essential concept was branded as Apple, Google or Samsung, intent to purchase was roughly 50% higher than when the phone was branded Essential. This supports the valuation of Apple and Google as the first and second most valuable brands in the world. Samsung is also in the top ten, coming in at 7th most valuable brand in existence.

Apple—the world’s #1 brand—inspires loyalty amongst its current customers. When current iPhone users saw the Essentials concept and were told it was made by Apple, fully 40% declared “I’d buy it”.

3. Samsung’s brand is not exploding, even though its batteries were

The strong level of interest in the phone when branded as Samsung shows how resilient a brand can be. After several public relations mishaps related to the Galaxy Note 7 exploding issues, and an estimated $5 billion dollar loss, Samsung is due for some positive news.

Smartphone owners are evidently willing to forgive and forget. When the phone was branded as Samsung, it had high purchase intent. We ran this same study with our Innovation Forum community—a specially recruited community of tech savvy consumers. What we found was that the enthusiasm for this smartphone concept when branded Samsung was even more pronounced, underscoring the enduring power of the Samsung brand amongst those in the know.

Innovation in action

The announcement of this new offer is a great example of the impact of innovation and the enduring power of brands. To journey with us as we continue to follow innovation in action, sign up to get new articles delivered to your inbox, or contact us to learn more.



Essential Phone description

As you evolve, so should your phone. This is an evolution of the smartphone where we believe simplicity is better. We will never force you to have anything on them that you don’t want to have. We are bringing real passion and craftsmanship back into the category. With the mindset of making all devices, not just smartphones, “play well with others,” we are using methods that will change how successful technology companies are built, forever. Because technology should assist you so that you can get on with enjoying your life. The first step towards that future is our new smartphone.

Key Features:

  • Titanium body that will survive a drop test without blemish, unlike aluminum devices
  • 10-finger multi-touch edge-to-edge touchscreen display (2560 x 1312 resolution) with palm and water-error rejection
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Rear 13 MP camera with 4K capability
  • Front facing 8MP camera with 4K capability
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 128GB of storage
  • Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi
  • Near-field communication for data transfer and mobile payments
  • 3040 mAh battery with fast charging USB-C connection
  • Will work on all cellular carriers
  • Sensors include a barometer, accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope
  • Price: $699 USD
  • Available accessories:
    • Magnetic connector and wireless data transfer
    • 360-degree camera that clicks in to the top of the phone
    • Charging dock
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