Samsung unveiled its flagship device to much fanfare at a New York event last night (March 14) which included a raft of new features, including a 13 megapixel “dual camera”, gesture control features plus 4G support.
Simon Stanford, Samsung UK and Ireland vice president, says the phone was “inspired by our customers,” claiming the brand had “listened to what customers around the world want”.
Details around pricing have yet to be revealed but UK mobile operators have been quick to announce their support of the launch here from 26 April. Few details over how the product will be marketed have emerged but material released by the brand suggests it will run with the strapline “Life Companion.”
Initial reactions to the device and its features among analysts have been positive but they also note Samsung’s key challenges are rival Apple’s iTunes content offering, and its ability to distinguish itself in the congested Android market.
Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, says: “Samsung has definitely established itself as a credible alternative to the iPhone but now it has to integrate software into its offering.
“Samsung is reliant on Google [which is effectively controls the Android ecosystem] but Apple [which has 100 per cent control over iTunes and the App Store] is master of its own destiny. This gives Apple an advantage.”
Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, adds: “For now, Samsung can likely rely on its vastly superior marketing budget and the relatively weak efforts of its [Android] competitors to keep it ahead.”
Dawson adds: “It also needs to build a stronger set of content offerings that cross its various platforms, so it can extend its leadership in smartphones into the tablet space, and give consumers a reason to buy into an ‘all-Samsung’ experience with their consumer electronics.”
Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, says Samsung has emerged as the leading Android manufacturer through a combination of its marketing, retail and pricing strategy, which it will need to continue to keep it ahead of competition.
“The challenge for the S4 is that it is being released into an extremely congested market with smartphone penetration nearing a ceiling in some developed markets,” he says.
Anticipation ahead of the launch of the Galaxy S4 was unprecedented for a Samsung event with statistics from Experian revealing that ‘Samsung S4’ was the second most searched for mobile phone in the week prior to the announcement.
Apple’s ‘iPhone’ was still the most searched for smartphone during the week but Experian also notes that Samsung accounted for one in every four mobile phone searches last week (Apple was one in five).
YouGov’s BrandIndex ratings show Samsung has risen to the top of the mobile phone market in terms of ‘buzz rankings’ in the twelve months to 14 of March – up from third place – surpassing Apple in the process.