Samsung Electronics vows to widen gap with Apple
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics is seeking to widen its lead over the California-based Apple in smartphones as it believes the just-unveiled Galaxy S3 will be the most successful in the company’s phone-making history.
``We strongly believe that the Galaxy S3 is a game changer, not just another technologically advanced model. This is the phone that Samsung has dreamed of for a long time,’’ said a senior executive, Friday.
It’s no surprise to see Samsung showing confidence about the new Galaxy as its telecommunications unit accounted for over 70 percent of the firm’s profit during the first three months of the year.
As Finland’s Nokia continues to give up market share, Samsung and Apple are persisting in their ``tug-of-war’’ to lay claim as the world’s top smartphone vendor.
And as Nokia’s shipments have nose-dived year-on-year in the first quarter, Samsung has emerged as the No. 1 handset vendor, globally.
The company was the top smartphone seller with a 29.1 percent global share from January to April, followed by Apple with 24.2 percent, according to data from IDC, a leading market research firm. A year ago Samsung’s smartphone share was 11.3 percent.
``The steep rise is mostly due to the success of the Galaxy S2. Still, some people were underestimating the success of the Galaxy S2. But this time, the situation will be totally different as the Galaxy S3 is completely new,’’ the executive stressed.
Apple benefited from a major launch for the iPhone 4S in China, as well as sustained demand, globally. And its gross margins continue to earn it more revenue than Samsung, despite the difference in unit shipments.
``With other companies in the midst of major strategic transitions, the contest between Apple and Samsung will bear close observation as hotly-anticipated new models are launched,’’ said senior IDC analyst Ramon Limas.
New design, powerful hardware
The new Galaxy preempts the expected release of a new handset from Apple ― possibly the iPhone 5 ― sometime in the latter half of the year with major changes in surface design, according to industry executives.
The new Galaxy’s most stunning feature is its built-in face-tracking and voice-control, allowing for a more ``natural’’ control system, according to Samsung.
Other innovations include what the company insists is a ``more intelligent’’ lock system, that keeps the screen ``awake’’ when the phone’s camera senses eyes watching it, rather than turning it off.
The voice control system, called ``S-Voice,’’ allows access to weather forecasts, web searches and scheduling, similar to iPhone’s Siri system.
``The Galaxy S3 shape is nicely-designed to be curvy and natural to hold, and human as we would put it,’’ said a designer who was involved in the Galaxy S3 project.
Available in blue and white, the phone will be launched at the end of May, starting in Europe, with other regions to follow.
Samsung Electronics said it is planning to release the phone in Korea sometime next month and added it’s been in talks with major domestic carriers.
``We picked London as the venue for the Galaxy as we were aiming to take advantage of the Summer Olympics,’’ said mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun during the ``Mobile Unpack Event.’’
Samsung adopted a large 4.8-inch ``Super AMOLED’’ screen running a resolution of 1280-by-720 pixels ― bigger than Apple’s iPhone, and closer in size to the smaller end of the tablet market. The device will also support Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
As The Korea Times earlier reported, Samsung will release the Galaxy S3 with different specifications for different markets. In the United States, Samsung will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, while the company will use its own quad-core technology in Korea and Europe, another senior executive confirmed.
``The new Galaxy represents Samsung’s competitiveness in smartphones. With the new iPhone that will be coming within the latter half of this year, the Galaxy S3 will become a mega hit model,’’ said Baek Jong-seok, an analyst at Hyundai Securities.