Samsung’s latest flagship Galaxy smartphone looks set to be unveiled on March 14, according to the company’s postings on Twitter and Facebook, as the Korean giant prepares its latest volley against Apple’s iPhone.
A flyer for the launch event, held in New York and livestreamed on YouTube, invites fans to “come and meet the next Galaxy”, expected to be the S4. The device will be the follow-up to its best-selling Galaxy S3 and is rumoured to include a larger, 5-inch display with full-HD, 1080p resolution.
Backed by a huge marketing campaign and substantial subsidies to operators, Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy S3 has been the most significant challenger to Apple’s iPhone since it launched last May.
The Galaxy S3 took the lead in the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012 with 18m units shipped, according to researcher Strategy Analytics, only to be overtaken by Apple again in the run-up to Christmas, when its 15.4m units were outpaced by both the iPhone 4S and 5, shipping 17.4m and 27.4m respectively.
The S3 has also helped to give Samsung a commanding position in the Android market, with its devices together accounting for 42.5 per cent of sales of smartphones using Google’s operating system last year, according to Gartner.
“The Android brand is being overshadowed by Samsung’s brand with the Galaxy name nearly a synonym for Android phones in consumers’ mind share,” said Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta in a note last week, noting that Samsung increased its share of the global handset market to 22 per cent last year, overtaking Nokia to become the world’s largest mobile vendor.
Samsung’s March event is billed as “Episode 1″ of Samsung’s “Unpacked 2013″ events, but its mobile launches for this year have already begun at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, where Samsung showcased its iPad mini competitor, the Galaxy Note 8.
Samsung is also working on several devices based on Tizen, a Linux-based OS backed by Samsung and Intel, according to reports out of Barcelona.
Likely to remain Android-based, the S4 may well offer new pay-by-touch technology, after Samsung and Visa announced a new partnership to pre-install Visa’s PayWave application onto Samsung’s NFC-equipped devices.
Many have speculated Apple could use iTunes’ bank of 450m credit card details to create a mobile payment service, even if its Passbook mobile ticketing and loyalty card app remains somewhat limited.
Another area where the S4 could look to compete with the iPhone is around enterprise capabilities. After BlackBerry’s decline left a vacuum in IT departments’ go-to choice for smartphones, Apple’s iPhone has been making strong headway. In an attempt to address Android’s weaker security controls, Samsung has been advertising the virtues of its “Safe” (Samsung For Enterprise) capabilities, running a series of ads during Sunday’s Oscar ceremony broadcast in the US, for instance.
Monday saw the announcement of “Knox”, an additional suite of security functions aimed at companies who let employees “bring your own device” to work.
Another invisible challenge to the S4 may also be lurking: its name. Telecoms industry gossips had been wondering whether Samsung might skip straight to S5 to avoid the number 4, which is considered unlucky in some parts of east Asia, including China and, to a lesser extent, Korea.
However, it seems Samsung doesn’t seem to be so superstitious, with the online flyer inviting customers to get “ready 4 the show” next month.