In a world where it seems phones can do almost anything, Samsung has just upped the ante with its latest Galaxy S4 smartphone. In addition to the plethora of amazing features these devices can perform, the S4 offers impressive new abilities. Perhaps what it is most noted for is its screen, which can be controlled with the user’s eyes as well as with hand/finger gestures without actually touching the screen itself. In terms of raw hardware, the S4 also proves to be quite attractive. The device boasts a five-inch screen, thinner body and two 13-megapixel cameras that can both shoot photos and video at the same time.
But the built-in features of the phone are not everything, as stressed by Samsung’s president of mobile communications, J.K. Shin. Shin said he believes that, “Market competition is intensifying further and the smartphone landscape is quite different now from three years ago. It’s important that we are able to deliver to consumers a device that has good hardware and software.” Despite the traction Samsung’s devices have been gaining in the last couple years, critics argue that the software experience is still quite inferior to what Apple provides. In an effort to mimic the iTunes experience that has been a tremendous asset for Apple, Samsung will launch Samsung Hub, which will provide similar services.
Yet, as many would imagine, the S4 isn’t going to be able to trump all of its competitors for long in the hyper-competitive smartphone market. According to Neil Mawston, executive director at the research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung will only reap the benefits for a short period of time.
Mawston predicts that Samsung will “maintain its reputation as a smartphone technology leader,” yet “any differentiation on specs or services for the S4 is likely to last only a few months or a year at best before it is benchmarked by rivals.” Since the market has become so saturated, it is no longer possible to just coast off of one great idea; to truly succeed, Samsung will need to stay ahead of the learning-curve and continuously innovate.
Although not implicit knowledge to most Americans or even John Carroll’s community, Samsung is the world leader in smartphone market share. At the end of 2012, Samsung commanded 30.1 percent of the market, a healthy increase from 19.1 percent the year before. Apple took silver, holding 19.1 percent, a modest increase from 18.8 percent. As acknowledged by Samsung’s J.K. Shin, the company still has work to do in the United States. Apple has a stunning 45 percent of the market, compared to Samsung’s 26.7 percent. Shin is far from content in this position, but remains confident that the S4 will likely outpace the sales of competitors’ smartphones.
Samsung is certainly an intriguing player in the mobile market and several years ago is not a firm that most would predict to eclipse Apple. It will be interesting to see how their fate plays out as Apple was once in a similar position as Samsung. Whether they will be able to continue create products that consumers love is a question only time can answer.
Information from The Wall Street Journal was used in this report.