Samsung Galaxy S4 Launch

Samsung held their launch event for their flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone in Times Sq yesterday. With Samsung’s marketshare growing to 21.4% for Jan 13, many are curious how the new handset will compete with Apple which holds 37.8% of the market. We could dive into some of the tech specs like the 5″ display or 13 megapixel camera, but let’s move our focus to the software and business concerns that will likely have the greatest impact for the Korean tech giant in their battle with Apple.

S Features: Despite being a Google Android phone, Samsung has a number of unique features that give it an edge over other Android products. One of the most interesting is their touchless controls like gesture inputs that let you wave your hand to take a call or smart pause which will stop videoplay when you look away. We’ve been talking about vanishing interfaces since our 2012 trends report which seem to be more prevalent each day. Also interesting is the line of “S” features like voice drive which converts text to speech and S Health that uses integrated sensors to measure steps taken and monitor other health activity. Samsung is smart to capitalize on the quantified self trend that previously relies on external hardware like Nike Fuelband or Fitbit.

Marketing: Samsung has bet big on the Galaxy SIII and SIV in an Us vs. Apple marketing push. The company has spent $401 million in the US alone in 2012 compared to Apple’s $333. We predict them to keep the spend strong for several months following the launch, but that may die down if they are not able to see increased sales growth.

Converting Users: Samsung is certainly taking over the Android space with HTC, Motorola and LG trailing way behind but how about Apple users? That valuable chunk of the market may be the most difficult to sway, despite lowered price point. One big consideration is the media sales as Apple users are known to spend substantially more in apps, content and more. For an iPhone owner to switch, they would need to begin their media purchases from scratch as they move into an entirely separate platform. This will undoubtedly be the biggest hurdle for Samsung, UI considerations aside.

Do you have any predictions for the S4? Weigh-in in the comments section below.