These days one of the toughest tasks for a mobile phone manufacturer is keeping a new product a secret. Everybody and his dog wants to find out about a product before it launches, and tech websites are only too happy to oblige, posting leaked images and rumours at every opportunity.
Despite a huge buzz surrounding it, Samsung managed to launch its Galaxy SIII smartphone and still surprise everybody. Over the year leading up to the official launch we saw somewhere in the region of 20 fakes, blurry images, prototypes and all sorts of other information purporting to be the real deal.
Looking back on it, the only leak that looked like the finished product was an outline drawing on the user manual, so Samsung did a pretty good job. The Korean company has decided to let us in on its methods of secrecy, explaining the extraordinary lengths its employees went to in order to ensure no prying eyes saw the phone.
Engineers who worked on the phone have admitted to living something of a double life during the development, with some even lying to their friends and family or outright denying any knowledge of such a product. Samsung’s blog explains one engineer’s struggle to not let any information slip to his gadget-obsessed son:
– Principal Engineer ByungJoon Lee (Mechanical R&D) was also grilled by family members. “My eldest son is in 6thgrade,” he shared.“He knew that I had worked on the GALAXY S and S II.So I guess he assumed that I’d do S III also. Every time he saw an article on the internet about the GALAXY S III he’d ask ‘Dad! You’re making the S III, right?’ But all I could say was ‘I don’t really know.’ It was really awkward.”
Samsung created an entirely separate lab for developing the phone, where only a select few engineers were given entirely different security cards for entry. There were even fingerprint readers for access to the lab, and prototypes were locked in security boxes when moved around – even across the hallway, says Samsung.
When a prototype had to be taken to partners, suppliers and networks, Samsung ensured that it used one of its own trusted employees to deliver the phone, rather than using a third party company as it usually would.
Samsung decided to use three different prototypes, each finished to the level of a final product, in order to prevent the real deal leaking. Any changes to the phone had to be replicated on all three prototypes, which the engineers admit became a tiresome and painstaking process.
We’re impressed that Samsung managed to keep the phone mostly under wraps until it was officially launched, although we have to feel a little sorry for the engineers who seem to have gone through a lot just to surprise the tech world!
Check out our hands-on gallery and impressions of the phone here.