But executives did tackle the matter head on during a conference call in which they referred to a "stagnant high-end market".
"As smartphones become more high-spec and product differentiation is becoming less clear, the global handset replacement cycles are getting longer," said one representative.
"Also, the higher price points of premium products appear to be driving market resistance."
In other words, Samsung believes the S9 failed to distinguish itself from other high-end handsets at the same time as being too expensive for many consumers' pockets.
Why has the S9 struggled to stand out?
With a few exceptions, most smartphones look pretty similar these days: a flat panel of glass fixed to a curved metal rear, with the bezels kept to a minimum.
In particular, the physical differences between the S8 and S9's exteriors were pretty minor, with reviewers left to obsess over a slight shift in the position of the fingerprint sensor.
The other big hardware change was the S9's introduction of a dual aperture lens. But that may have proved a difficult sell to anyone beyond the photography geeks who probably already owned a dedicated camera.
"It's an exceptional phone but I don't think there was enough differentiation," said Roberta Cozza, from the tech consultancy Gartner.
"Differentiation today comes from creating compelling experiences and I don't think Samsung has done enough in that area yet.
"[Its artificial intelligence assistant] Bixby, for example, hasn't been the success it had been hoping for."
Samsung is far from the only handset-maker to have made its most radical changes on a two-year basis, with more limited tweaks to the in-between models.
But another expert suggested that this strategy had become problematic.
"What's changed in the last 18 months is that the rate of commoditisation has become much faster, in terms of the speed with which specifications and design characteristics can be copied from one brand to the next," said Ben Stanton, a tech analyst at Canalys.
"When the Galaxy S8 launched in 2017, it was a pioneering product and nothing looked like it.
"But now there is a flood of devices that are very similar and sometimes better priced."
What threat do Chinese rivals pose?
China once presented Samsung with a huge opportunity. These days, it poses a threat.
The South Korean company used to be the bestselling smartphone brand in China's giant smartphone market.
"Such unprovoked aggressive behaviour is never typical of the winning side; it's most often exhibited by the losing team, which, realising that the final seconds of the match are ticking away, starts playing in a rough and desperate... way," said the news site Phone Arena in a recent editorial.
To be fair, Apple wasn't beyond making fun of the competition in its I'm-a-Mac/I'm-a-PC ads from yesteryear. But the difference was that it was the underdog at the time.
"Samsung should probably leave this strategy behind and focus more on the features that make its own products unique," said Ms Cozza.
What's Samsung doing to address the problem?
In the short-term, Samsung said it had brought forward the launch of its Galaxy Note 9, which will make its debut on 9 August in New York.
In addition, it said it intended to add new features to its lower-end handsets to increase their appeal.
"We will also strengthen price competitiveness," added the chief of the company's mobile business, KyeongTae Lee - which sounds like a hint of lower prices.
Longer term, Samsung said the introduction of bendy smartphones should "bring new energy" to its line-up.
"We have been engaged in research and development of the foldable smartphones for several years," an unidentified executive revealed during its conference call.
"We're in the process of stabilising the performance as well as durability by working together with a parts company."