The global launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3 is officially underway, giving the device an early advantage over Apple's next-generation iPhone.
The South Korean electronics giant's follow-up to the highly successful Galaxy S2 is now available in 28 European countries, and analysts expect a U.S. launch in June. The company is hoping this momentum will push sales to exceed early expectations and keep it as one of the world's top phone makers.
The S3 runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and features a 4.8-inch screen, a quad-core processor and new eye-tracking technology that keeps the display from dimming when in use.
The S3's early launch ahead of its Cupertino handset rival repeats the same pattern of its predecessor last year, which proved fortuitous for the Galaxy line and helped boost its strongest sales ever.
When Samsung launched the S2 last year, months ahead of the iPhone 4S, it built up attention and hype with consumers and pundits. As a result, the device enjoyed strong sales that helped propel the company to the spot as the number-one smartphone maker in the world. The strong reviews of the S2 and its subsequent sales made it the iPhone's number-one competition, but Apple's launch of the 4S slowed Samsung's momentum
The 4S was able to catch up to the S2 last year, but with customers and critics eagerly awaiting Samsung's new device after the success of its predecessor, the S3's head start could be a difference maker. The S3 will likely build on the achievements of the S2, which sold millions around the world and garnered a reputation as a worthy iPhone competitor.
Samsung will use strong reviews and word-of-mouth to build buzz for the device throughout the summer, giving it a few months' lead time ahead of the next iPhone's projected fall launch. The jump could be enough to spark consumers' interest, especially in a crowded market that moves quickly through seasons' of products.
However, the iPhone will remain formidable competition even if the S3 launch gives Samsung a comfortable jump. There will undoubtedly be long lines for Apple's next iPhone, especially if it launches with its rumored body change and larger screen, which reflect the incredible expectations and hype surrounding the devices. A new form factor will likely help build the iPhone's momentum and spark even more fervent consumer attention from new customers intrigued by a new look and feel.
Apple has a track record of making great products, which is part of the reason for the hype that surrounds its products' launch days and keynote conferences. However, Samsung has now built a following of its own, and analysts believe the S3's release day in the U.S. will see crowds as well.
Samsung may not be at Apple's level just yet, but it has done a nice job over the past few years establishing itself as a brand and creating a buzz around its smartphones, making its head start on the next iPhone a big advantage.