It has been reported several times that Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S6 will ditch the company’s classic all plastic design in favor of something of higher quality, which has been thought to be a metal-build. Today, however, a new report out of Korea, which should be taken with a grain of salt, says that Samsung is looking to make the Galaxy S6 out of all glass. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how Apple designed its iPhone 4 and 4s.
Samsung let New Yorkers experience the all-new Galaxy S III today at a release event in Manhattan, while the company reiterated its goal to “win over” the competition’s user base (ahem, iPhone 4S users) with this latest Android offering.
Chief Marketing Officer Tom Pendleton and Chief Product Officer Kevin Packingham were on stage this afternoon to celebrate the S III’s launch on all the major U.S. carriers. They also unveiled their marketing strategy, with a few numbers on mobile sales. The executives revealed that Samsung sold 61 million devices in the United States—just add another 80 million for the worldwide sales. They further pinpointed the S III as the fastest-selling pre-order smartphone in the company’s stateside history.
The Galaxy-branded smartphone boasts many impressive features, such as Ice Cream Sandwich OS, but the South Korea-based manufacturer focused on the S III’s uniqueness, 2100 mAh battery, 4.65-inch high-definition screen, 2 GB of RAM, LTE capability, and integrated sharing options.
“We want to show you five things no other phone can do,” added Packingham, while touting the S III’s bevy of highlights.
The chief explained how the Galaxy Nexus successor packs an “All Share Group Cast” feature for sharing documents and media anytime or anywhere. Meanwhile, the “Share Shot” tech specifically—and automatically—streams photographs to friends, but “S Beam” is available for those who want to send large video files or even contacts with just one tap. Next up is the “Smart Stay” feature, which maintains screen brightness, so users are never again interrupted by a dimming display. The last showcased feature is the “Pop-up Play” that allows S III owners to do multitask such as watching video and texting simultaneously.
Shortly after the new Siri-like voice assistant feature of Samsung’s new Galaxy S III, known as “S-Voice,” made its way to other Android devices via an available APK, reports claimed Samsung began to block non-S III users from accessing the service. XDA Developer community members confirmed (via TNW) that Vlingo, the company behind the voice recognition technology used in S-Voice, is now blocking users from trying to access its servers with devices other than the S III.
In December of last year, Nuance, the company currently powering speech in Apple’s Siri app on the iPhone 4S, acquired Vlingo. Samsung previously collaborated with Vlingo for the Voice Commander feature for the Galaxy S II. We expect Nuance has improved Vlingo since the acquisition, while Apple’s relationship with Nuance is not stopping Samsung from using the Vlingo technology. In an interview in October, Norman Winarsky, co-founder of Siri, told us Vlingo was originally used in Siri when it first developed, but noted it is rather easy for apps like Siri to implement new speech recognition technology if it comes along.
Research firm Gartner released its numbers today for “Worldwide Mobile Device Sales” during Q1 2012. There are not many surprises in the report when it comes to Apple, but Gartner estimated Samsung sold 38 smartphones during the quarter, which is less than the 42.2 million estimated by IDC earlier this month and more than the 32 million by IHS iSuppli. With Apple confirming 35.1 million iPhones sold during the quarter, Gartner’s numbers put Samsung as the both the No. 1 smartphone and overall mobile device vendor. The report also noted Samsung and Apple together accounted for 49.3-percent of the global smartphone sales, which is up from just 29.3 percent in Q1 of last year:
“The continued roll-out of third generation (3G)-based smartphones by local and regional manufacturers such as Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, Yulong and TCL Communication should help spur demand in China. In addition, the arrival of new products in mature markets based on new versions of the Android and Windows Phone operating systems (OSs), and the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 will help drive a stronger second half in Western Europe and North America. However, as we are starting to update our market forecast we feel a downward adjustment to our 2012 figures, in the range of 20 million units, is unavoidable.”
On the platform side, Gartner’s report estimated both Android and iOS accounted for 79 percent of global smartphone sales—up from just 53.3-percent in Q1 2011. Of that 80 percent, Android grabbed 56.1-percent, which is slightly higher than the 51 percent of the United States market, according to estimates from comScore earlier this month. Apple took in the remaining 22.9-percent, which is less than the 30.7-percent comScore estimated for the U.S. market:
Gartner analysts said the smartphone market has become highly commoditized and differentiation is becoming a challenge for manufacturers. “At the high end, hardware features coupled with applications and services are helping differentiation, but this is restricted to major players with intellectual property assets. However, in the mid to low-end segment, price is increasingly becoming the sole differentiator. This will only worsen with the entry of new players and the dominance of Chinese manufacturers, leading to increased competition, low profitability and scattered market share.”
Today, research firm IDC published its Q1 2012 report of top mobile phone and smartphone shipments worldwide. While Apple was able to post impressive growth with a high of 8.8-percent of the total mobile phone market (up from 4.6-percent a year ago) and 24.2-percent of the global smartphone market (up from 18.3-percent), Samsung was able overtake Apple for the top spot with a year-over-year change of 267 percent and 29.1-percent of the total smartphone market. Samsung also took the top spot of global mobile phone marketshare from Nokia for the first time since 2004.
Meanwhile, the worldwide smartphone market grew 42.5% year over year in 1Q12, as Samsung overtook Apple for the smartphone leadership position. Vendors shipped 144.9 million smartphones in 1Q12 compared to 101.7 million units in 1Q11. The 42.5% year-over-year growth was 1% higher than IDC’s forecast of 41.5% for the quarter, and lower than the 57.4% growth in the fourth quarter of 2011
In terms of shipments among smartphone vendors, Apple took the second spot behind Samsung up from 18.6 million units in Q1 2011 to 35.1 million in Q1 2012. Apple was only behind Samsung with 42.2 million units shipped, up from just 11.5 million a year ago.
The company does not publicly release shipments from Samsung, and IDC’s number of 42.2 million smartphones shipped during Q1 is significantly more than the 32 million estimated by IHS iSuppli just days ago. If IHS’s estimate were correct, it would put Samsung much closer to the 35.1 million devices Apple confirmed it shipped sold during the quarter.
Handset maker Motorola Mobility may have found itself in an uneasy place as both Microsoft and Apple are attempting to block its $12.billion sale to Google, but the company’s marketing department is as vigorous as ever. With this week’s spotlight on the latest mobile developments showcased at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain, the Razr-maker published three provocative clips on its YouTube channel.
The videos pit the iPhone 4S-exclusive Siri feature against Android Voice Actions running on three different handsets: The Atrix 2, Photon 4G and Electrify. In each instance, Siri runs notably slower (and therefore less useful) than Android Voice Actions on Motorola’s devices.
Both Android Voice Actions and Siri need a network connection to upload audio samples of spoken queries. The cloud does the rest–speech recognition, parsing your query and beaming down the results. With that said, the performance gap that these clips highlight stems from the faster 4G networking on Motorola’s devices and has little to do with the type of processor, the amount of memory and other hardware features.
The iPhone 4’s design was heavily criticized over the use of chemically strengthened glass for its enclosure. The pundits typically highlight a zero percent probability of the device landing on the “right” side in an unfortunate event of slipping out of your sweaty hands onto the pavement. Whichever way you look at it, both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S have questionable droppability compared to other handsets using chassis engineered around the usual metal + plastic combo.
The folks over at SquareTrade took an iPhone 4S for a spin and pitted it against Samsung’s Galaxy S II to see which one survives a waist high and shoulder high drop. As you can see in the above clip, Apple’s latest and greatest handset was pretty badly damaged from the outside, just like its predecessor. It did, however, fare pretty well landing on its stainless steel band. Dropped face down, however, the iPhone 4S’s screen completely shattered. Samsung’s device didn’t suffer nearly as much damage (note that being light weight is probably a factor).
In addition, the plastic back on the Samsung device has gotta be more prone to surviving the shock of a sudden impact compared to glass. By the way, if you’re concerned about your iPhone’s droppability, head over to 9to5Toys and get yourself a great case. SquareTrade is an independent warranty provider cover nearly everything – excluding, of course, intentional damage shown in the clip. Hop over to their web site for more information.
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber summed up nicely the problem with the iPhone 4’s easily breakable all-glass design. For those who don’t recall Gruber’s comment, here’s a thought he shared shortly after the device had gone on sale in the summer of 2010:
Remember how Samsung threatened to ban sales of Apple’s next iPhone the second it becomes official? They are keeping good on that promise by filing two separate motions for preliminary injunctions in Paris and Milan in an attempt to bar sales of the iPhone 4S in France and Italy. From Samsung’s corporate blog:
Samsung Electronics will file separate preliminary injunction motions in Paris, France and Milano, Italy on October 5 local time requesting the courts block the sale of Apple’s iPhone 4S in the respective markets.
Samsung’s preliminary injunction requests in France and Italy will each cite two patent infringements related to wireless telecommunications technology, specifically Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) standards for 3G mobile handsets.
The infringed technology is essential to the reliable functioning of telecom networks and devices and Samsung believes that Apple’s violation as being too severe and that the iPhone 4S should be barred from sales.
Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free ride on our technology. We believe it is now necessary to take legal action to protect our innovation.
Samsung plans to file preliminary injunctions in other countries after further review.
Underwhelmed with Apple’s new iPhone 4S, but obviously viewing it as a potential threat, Samsung is luring undecided or perhaps disappointed fans into considering the Galaxy S II smartphone. The company has issued an email to customers, attaching a convenient comparison table that pits the features of the iPhone 4S against its own Galaxy S II device. On closer inspection, however, some of the entries in Samsung’s table raise eyebrows.
For example, Samsung is downplaying the importance of Siri by describing it as the ‘voice activation’ feature and comparing Siri to Vlingo, a free download from Android Market. While Vlingo is billed as the best personal assistant on Android, it isn’t as comprehensive or deeply integrated as Sir, which surprises with its conversational attitude and artificial intelligence features allowing it to learn from past interactions with the user.
Also, the Cameras section in Samsung’s tablet ignores the iPhone 4S’s enhanced camera system, which is based on Sony’s lens and the improved sensor from Omnivision. The iPhone 4S’s back camera has a fifth lens, the larger f/2.4 aperture, the backside illumination sensor, as well as face detection and video stabilization capabilities, none of which Samsung bothered to mention. Instead, they tout their admittedly superb Super AMOLED Plus display which is “preferred 2 to 1 against other leading displays by Strategy Analytics”, a 1.2GHz or 1.5GHz dual-core processor (versus the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S) and, of course, 4G networking supporting WiMax, HSPA+ 42 or HSPA+ 21 MBps.
Apple’s handset sports HSPA 14.4Mbps networking that marketing chief Phil Schiller said could file as 4G, but underscored Apple won’t follow in the footsteps of its rivals by misusing the term “4G”. Perhaps Apple’s decision was influenced by a new bill to force carriers to disclose real 4G speeds?
Samsung’s table also underscores the openness of Android allowing for multiple app stores, music stores and online services. Finally, they are still referring to the Galaxy SII as the thinnest smartphone despite losing out the title to iPhone 4 in the U.K., per last month’s ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority.
Go past the fold for the full speeds and feeds chart and Samsung’s email message in its entirety.