Samsung Galaxy S4 may reorder the smartphone universe

The Roots perform during the Samsung Galaxy Sound Stage at SXSW.

The smartphone wars are fought on a lot of fronts. It starts with creating a great product. And Samsung’s Galaxy is getting real credit for being innovative, said Andrew Lih, an iPhone user and a professor of journalism at University of Southern California.

He’s considering making a switch to the Galaxy.

“So even the Retina display that they’re touting with Apple is going to look a little bit low-res with what Samsung is announcing this week,” Lih said. 

Along with a sharper screen, some analysts say that the new Galaxy will have “eye tracking” technology. A camera on the phone tracks your eyes when you’re reading and when you get to the bottom of the page, it scrolls down automatically.

To be sure, in terms of popularity, Samsung still has a lot of catching up to do in the U.S. where Apple’s got about 40 percent of the smartphone market to Samsung’s 20 percent. But the Galaxy is generating a lot of buzz. For the first time since Apple launched the iPhone, the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant might have a real competitor in the smartphone space.

But with so many smartphones out there, you need an identity.

“Branding has become an absolute must in this market,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner.

Milanesi added that Samsung has positioned Galaxy as a real alternative to the iPhone -- something no other cell phone maker has been able to do. And Samsung is spending plenty on advertising to do it.

“In 2012, Apple’s budget increased to $333 million, but in contrast, Samsung’s budget skyrocketed to $401 million,” said Prashant Malaviya, a marketing professor at Georgetown’s Business School.

Samsung has launched a series of clever ads, gently poking fun of the iPhone as a has-been. So the real question now, is whether it can deliver the “next new thing.”

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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