As Samsung’s latest smartphone, the Galaxy S3, goes on sale it appears to have a clear run in the marketplace with little competition. Will it manage to establish the S3 as the leading smartphone of 2012? Looking around at the current competition it has the opportunity to become the de facto standard. But I get the feeling that Apple are waiting for Samsung to play all their cards before they trump the South Korean company with the next iPhone.
Apple and their market standing have nothing to fear from the S3.
The modern smartphone is based around a very large slab of a touch-screen, and that doesn’t leave a huge amount of space for interesting design, but it can be done. Nokia has won a lot of praise for the Lumia 800 design, and Apple’s credibility here is unsurpassed.
On the other hand, everyone joked that the Galaxy S3′s design appeared to be coordinated by lawyers tasked to ensure there was no way anyone could argue the S3 looked like an iPhone. The lack of wonder and smart styling in the S3 is probably one of the more interesting points of discussion around this smartphone.
While Samsung made a point of highlighting the screen size at the launch of the S3 as tech writers poured over the specifications on the press release, the numbers seemed rather spookily familiar, especially if you’ve already taken some time to look at the HTC One X. The high-end Android devices use roughly the same high-spec chipsets, and the numbers game is now about making sure a manufacturer has parity with another, rather than pulling out a big number and using it as the advertising hook.
Apple has traditionally never made a huge amount of noise over specs (and to a certain extend Microsoft have also diminished this strategy with the baseline Windows Phone spec). Both of these companies are in a better place now that specifications are being pushed out of marketing. Samsung has started that transition with their “designed for humans” marketing, but has some catching up to do.
Apple has one just one smartphone, which is the iPhone. Samsung has a wide range of Galaxy devices to make sure they have a device available at every price point, but it dilutes their power with such a wide range. but the issue isn’t the reliance on Android, it’s the reliance on other Operating Systems.
Samsung has Android on the go, but also has Windows Phone. And the in-house Bada operating system. No matter how each department approaches their handsets, Samsung as a whole does not focus on a single smartphone operating system. Apple’s ability to focus on one OS product allows a much clearer story to be told to the public, and the best use of limited engineering resources.
With the S3, Samsung now has a brand name (‘Galaxy’) that people recognise and some will make a point of asking for. It’s a very strong brand name in tech circles, but it’s not quite broken into the mainstream. Just because a piece of hardware has the ‘Galaxy’ label does not mean it will fly off the shelves, look at the ‘Galaxy Tab’ range.
Apple’s brand loyalty is unquestionably the best in the business (perhaps the best in any business). With any new product, Tim Cook and Apple will have a head start in terms of name recognition, a willingness of the public to look at what is on offer, and the media will give them a significant amount of coverage. Samsung is lacking that, and will always have to fight hard to be on the same footing as Apple.
No matter what, the iPhone 5 will be the next ‘best thing since sliced bread’ (even if it’s not named the iPhone 5). The guessing game on what it will feature has already started online, but the reaction when it launches is predictable.
It will do a few things better than the iPhone 4s and the current smartphones; there will be one key feature that will be blown out of all proportion as changing the way smartphones are seen (my guess is NFC technology, possibly with mobile transactions for all); and the mainstream press will hand Apple wall to wall coverage both on the day of the announcement and when it hits the stores.
Simply put, the iPhone 5 is going to be seen by the public as the better phone.