Samsung set for crucial Galaxy S4 smartphone launch

Samsung advertising still A lavish advertising campaign has preceded the launch

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Samsung is set to launch a device in its flagship premium smartphone range, expected to be named the Galaxy S4.

It follows the S3, a handset that has sold more than 40 million units. The Galaxy handsets are seen as the closest competitor to Apple's iPhone.

Analysts predict software that tracks where users are looking and automatically scrolls down the page as it is read, without it being touched.

There is also expected to be a souped-up camera and processor.

But crucial to Samsung's future success, analysts say, is how the South Korean company plans to turn its strong position in the smartphone market into greater success with other devices such as tablets.

Prior to Thursday's launch in New York, Samsung has unleashed a huge advertising campaign, including a series of videos involving a small boy tasked with looking after a "top secret" box.

Heavy customisation

Like the S3, the S4 is expected to run on Google's Android operating system - but analysts are predicting some heavy customisation from Samsung in order to give the device a more distinctive feel and, crucially, set it apart from its competitors' Android-based handsets.

This is important, says Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza, if Samsung is to gain a higher level of loyalty to its device range.

Unlike with Apple, where a large number of iPhone owners gravitate towards the iPad when they decide to purchase a tablet, the same cannot be said of other brands, where customers are more likely to mix and match.

Samsung Galaxy Note The Samsung Galaxy range consists of tablets and mid-sized "phablets" as well as smartphones

"We will see more of a step towards more 'stickiness' towards the brand," Ms Cozza says.

"Already the Galaxy S3 can be seen as an alternative to the iPhone, [but] the integration that Apple offers with iPad is still not matched. Samsung is not there."

The expectation the S4 will feature eye-tracking capability has been heightened by existing technology in the Galaxy S3 - the phone's Smart Stay function stops the screen from dimming when somebody is looking at it.

Furthermore, the New York Times notes that Samsung filed for a couple of trademarks this year named "Eye Scroll" and "Eye Pause".

Analysts also predict the standard array of upgrades - faster processor, better camera - and Ms Cozza predicts we will see something of a small leap in a major area of Samsung's expertise.

"I would think they will leverage some strength in display," she says. "Providing something on the display side that is different."

Supposed leaked images of the phone show a device that is slightly bigger than the S3, but largely the same in appearance.

Another company relying on the S4 to follow successfully in the S3's footsteps is Google.

Its Android software is used by more smartphone users than's Apple's iOS - but makes less money from apps and other related products.

Of the Android crowd, Samsung is streets ahead in market share, making more than 60% of all Android smartphones sold.

Some analysts believe this dominance could lead to Samsung looking at how it can assert far more control over the operating system - perhaps in a way similar to Amazon which, with its Kindle tablets, launched its own curated app store for its users to buy from instead of Google's default shop.

Google Android Jelly Bean launch More than 60% of Google Android-powered smartphones are made by Samsung

As well as cutting out Google's share of the app sale, a curated store also allows for applications designed specifically for a certain device, rather than the largely one-size-fits-all situation in the Google Play store.

Ovum's principal device analyst, Tony Cripps, says Samsung needs to take these steps if it is to fend off the threat from other hardware manufacturers such as Chinese firm Huawei.

"While Samsung continues to grow its shipments impressively, the company undermines its own position in the broader ecosystem by providing Google a huge mobile platform from which to influence consumers, application developers and advertisers," he says.

"It is very difficult for Samsung to achieve that level of influence itself while it depends on Google to supply device software and key applications and services through Android.

"Lacking a powerful ecosystem of its own clearly positions the company lower down in the value chain than either Google or Apple."

With Apple suffering from a dipped share price, and a few recent missteps with product launches, the time is perhaps ripe for Samsung to pile pressure on the iPhone-maker.

"It is a important device for them because they have got to a point where they are competing head-to-head with Apple, creating a lot of expectation," says Gartner's Ms Cozza.

"All eyes are on this device now."

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