May 3, 2012
After months of rumors and a good marketing orchestration, Samsung has just unveiled its new flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy S3. Samsung will first launch the HSPA+ device in Europe at the end of May to benefit from the current weaknesses of its competitors — in particular, Nokia. It will release in the US in an LTE version later this summer. The aim is clear: to take the lead from Apple’s iPhone in the high-end smartphone segment and do even better than the Galaxy S2, which sold more than 20 million units.
Samsung is positioning a wide range of products in all segments and in multiple consumer electronic categories, leveraging its scale and scope and its vertically integrated approach (screens, processors, storage components, etc.). Despite the growing dependence on the Android OS, Samsung does not have all its eggs in the same OS basket. However, it clearly needs to catch up in the software and services space. That’s the reason I continue to believe that, in the premium segment, Apple is still in the best position to offer a seamlessly integrated experience across devices. Samsung’s cloud component is still missing, and it will need to continue its efforts to close the gap with Apple.
On the contrary, Apple — still one of Samsung’s largest clients (chipsets and screens) — has few models and higher margins and is in a position to leverage a different ecosystem around its OS, apps, and iCloud models. Thanks to the phenomenal success of the iPad, the Apple brand is reinventing itself and expanding into hardware categories that represent new growth drivers from which Samsung is not yet able to benefit.
Beyond the Samsung/Apple high-end leadership war, the great news is that these new smartphones will increasingly enable consumer-facing brands to launch innovative new product experiences. Some of the new services introduced by the Galaxy S III highlight this phenomenon:
- With its SmartStay feature, the Galaxy S III recognizes how you are using your phone — i.e., reading an eBook — by having the front camera identify your eyes; the phone maintains a bright display for continued viewing pleasure.
- S Voice presents powerful device control and commands functions. When your phone alarm goes off but you need a little extra rest, just tell the Galaxy S III to snooze. You can also use S Voice to play your favorite songs or automatically launch the camera and capture a photo.
- With the new S Beam, the Galaxy S III expands upon Android Beam, allowing more content to be quickly shared by simply touching another Galaxy S III phone.
- With facial recognition, the Buddy Photo Share function also allows photos to be easily and simultaneously shared directly from the camera with all the friends who are pictured in an image.
These are just a few examples of how the way we will control devices and interact with the world around us is changing. We’re just scratching the surface of changes yet to come. The mouse has had its day — it's time to anticipate the disruption that mobile will create in the years to come.