The Samsung Galaxy S4 has been described as an 'evolution, not revolution' in the smartphone arena but analysts have said its marketing muscle means it is a guaranteed success.
IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo said the device, which goes on sale from 26 April, could be the first to outsell the iPhone. He said the welter of features, from temperature and humidity sensors to scrolling web pages through eye movements, will help it stand out from competitors but added its plastic backing means it still has work to be done to innovate on build. He said: 'By launching the Galaxy S4 by the end of April, as opposed to June or July, Samsung will take advantage of an almost exclusive sales period of several months where high-end competition is minimal. This will put pressure on Apple to further innovate the launch of the next iPhone. I believe this will make competition at the high-end of the market extremely difficuly for competitors, possibly forcing them to focus on low margin opportunity.'
Jan Dawson, chief telecom analyst at Ovum, was more cynical about the features, describing them as 'gimmicks rather than game changers'. He said the launch highlights several challenges for the market leader. He said: 'Having innovated rapidly over the last several years to vaunt itself into top spot in the world smartphone rankings, Samsung now faces essentially the same challenge as Apple: how to continue to improve its devices year on year when existing phones are already top of their class, and there aren't obvious shortcomings?
'And secondly, how to set Samsung's devices apart from other devices that share the Android operating system that provides so much of the functionality? As rivals such as HTC and Sony up the specs of their devices and provide ever better hardware, it becomes more and more important for Samsung to differentiate on software and services.'
Geoff Blaber at CCS Insight said rivals will be concerned about the forthcoming marketing blitz to promote the handset. He said: 'Samsung's competitors will be less concerned by the product itself but more by the looming promotional onslaught. The Galaxy S 4 is not a revolutionary product but nor does Samsung need it to be. It's a competitive device supported by an unrivalled marketing campaign that will deeply worry the competition.'
Author: Graeme Neill