With reports that Samsung will release its much-anticipated Galaxy S3 in July, how important is it that the device does well? Is the S3 make or break for the Korean manufacturer?
The Galaxy S2 was a game changer not just for Samsung but also the smartphone market last year. Released in the UK in the spring it forced its competitors to up their game. Running a dual-core processor it made Android work relatively effortlessly. The 8 megapixel camera started the serious revolution among smartphone developers of having the finest digital cameras they could work into their devices on the back.
Available in black, white and pink consumers responded to the boost in spec in the smartphone market and bought 20 million S2s. Super sharp graphics, an impressive crystal clear display and with a larger screen this was a device that made people realise the potential for watching and enjoying media on a smartphone. The rest of the field was left having to catch up.
For many the S2 was the device of 2011. It pushed Android into gaining a greater share of the market place and proved Samsung was a serious contender to the iPhone’s crown. 20 million might not be the same as 37 million iPhone sales, which is what Apple achieved in the final quarter of 2011 thanks to the launch of the iPhone 4S, but it is still impressive.
The success of the S2 bodes well for the Galaxy S3, but it does also mean there is a lot more pressure for Samsung to achieve the same results in 2012.
The S3 has to do well, at the very least. In an ideal world it has to outstrip the S2. The S2 was something of a surprise hit for many and expectation could weigh the S3 down. Users will expect to love it as much as they did the S2, but a year is a long time in the smartphone market. Samsung was buoyed by not having a major Apple competitor for the first six month.
The iPhone 4S, in many ways, was a response to the S2, particularly when we look at the camera upgrade. iPhone sales had dipped and Samsung was able to take advantage. In comparison the S3 launches with Apple riding high after its phenomenal sales of the 4S and looking ahead to a potential autumn launch of the iPhone 5.
Similarly the S2 set the stall for what has become an arms race in the smartphone market; bigger screens, better resolution, thinner designs, more powerful processors, better cameras every new release had to trump the last. It’s one thing to lead but by allowing HTC to launch its quad-core, closely followed by LG at Mobile World Congress, is Samsung losing its top ground?
The specs of the S3 have not yet been announced, leaked or even hinted at. Chances are it will look fairly similar to the S2, just a bit better. The Samsung website in Russia was forced to deny an image it uploaded was of the S3. The specs listed next to the picture included a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, a 12 megapixel camera, a 5 inch Super AMOLED screen as well as 4G capability. Whether or not this is what the S3 will actually come with the specs sound about right considering general industry developments at the moment.
A lot is riding on the S3. Samsung’s ambition to gain more of the smartphone market by making available smartphones at each price point, so budget, mid-range, top-end is a good one, but it requires a flagship device at the helm. The S3 has to be that device and from there it does set the tone in terms of brand and innovation, even if it isn’t the device everyone can afford.
Samsung says they will launch the S3 at its own party during the first half of 2012 with a possible availability date of July. With quad-core competition launching from HTC and LG at the start of April, Samsung may have to bring a little something extra to the table to repeat the success enjoyed by the Galaxy S2 last year.