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One Phone to Serve All: Is Galaxy Samsung’s iPhone?

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Samsung today announced that the Galaxy S smartphone will be sold by all three major carriers in China, even though each uses different handset network standards. Globally, Samsung has already shipped 3 million Galaxy S phones and expects that number to increase to 10 million before the end of 2010. Introducing the device in China should help that goal as China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom collectively have roughly 758.8 million subscribers that could potentially be in the market for a Google Android-powered (s goog) Galaxy S smartphone.

What’s most noticeable is that Samsung’s Android approach is very different from that of HTC or Motorola. Android has been good for both: HTC profits are up and Motorola’s (s MOT) mobile division is making money again. The latter two offer various makes and models of Android smartphones at nearly every price point. In fact, if a week goes by and I don’t hear about a new Android phone coming soon from either of these two companies, I wonder if there’s something wrong with my email or feed reader. In contrast, Samsung has developed one phone with a common name and plans to use it around the world; when the Galaxy S was first announced, Samsung said it already had 100 carriers on board for the device.

As different as Samsung’s approach is when compared to HTC or Motorola, it’s very similar to that of Apple (s aapl) and the iPhone: aside from radio frequencies, just one device with minor tweaks to be sold around the world. By doing this, Samsung is avoiding some of the Android fragmentation issues introduced by handset-makers that come from varying hardware used and software or user interface customizations. That doesn’t mean every Galaxy S is identical across carriers or country; the Fascinate for Verizon (s vz) uses Bing (s msft) as the default search, for example, and the AT&T (s t) Captivate lacks the front-facing camera of the generic Galaxy S.

Aside from various differences in the phone that arise from carrier customizations, Samsung is smart to keep it simple with the Galaxy S line, and its iPad-competitor, the Tab, is a Galaxy S device as well. One basic framework to develop and support provides a consistent user experience and keeps Samsung’s costs down. While I’m all for consumer choice, it’s far easier to make a purchase if one well-designed phone can meet your needs instead having to sift through dozens of slightly different models. Based on my review of the Captivate and some hands-on time with a generic Galaxy S, Samsung has created one compelling smartphone it can leverage around the world. Given that thought, do you think it’s a coincidence that Samsung’s iPad-competitor, the Tab, is a Galaxy S device too?

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):

To Ship or Not to Ship — Product Launch in the Smartphone Era

29 Responses to “One Phone to Serve All: Is Galaxy Samsung’s iPhone?”

  1. Just to put these number in perspective, Apple sells 8M iPhones a quarter. If Samsung really manages to sell 10M Galaxy S by the end of the year, it’ll sell around 30% as many Androids as Apple sells iPhones. Now, apple might increase the iPhone sales rate, but we need to remember that the Galaxy only came out in the second quarter.
    Very impressive achievement for Samsung.

  2. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.



    OK let’s look at all the missing or enhanced features that Froyo has.

    Partial Exchange Active Sync

    A task switcher that lists the last 8 used apps instead of only the apps that are open.

    Some apps do not show up at all

    Poor multi-tasking of notifications flake out any operation

    Example alarm clock cannot be shut off if you receive a notification.

    Pandora and or music player flakes out completely when notifications come through

    Poor memory management phone becomes unresponsive unless active task killer is running in the background

    No VPN support out of the box

    Not to mention the absolutely hideous operation and UI

    This is just what I can come up with from the top of my head


    Apple & Blackberry have nothing to worry about as “most people” are not into rooting their phone and loading alternate ROMS to make their phone semi-functional

    Why do I have to work to make my smartphone do what I need it to do? It’s a joke.

    • worldbfree4me

      In my current employ, there are two camps, iPhone owners who love the cool appeal and Android owners who tend to be power users like me. The iPhone people are always asking me “how to questions” the Android people are already intimate with their OS’s thus only share news about the latest app or newest phone on the Horizon. You may not think the iPhone is hard to work as you put it, but apparently others do including Apple which is why they have an eccentric Store. Have you ever seen an Android store or heard of one coming soon? What you describe as “Work” is merely a learning curve.

      “What the wise do in the beginning, fools usually do in the end”


        I really don’t know where you were going with your response. You know why your Android people don’t talk about anything but the latest app or the newest phone on the horizon? Because they hope that the latest app or the newest phone will give them the basic operations that they need and are too sheepish to void their warranty and load alternate ROMs on their current Android turd.

        I’ve learned to love putting in the extra effort because I like to work for my features unlike those smug bastards with their iPhones where Jobs gives them what they need effortlessly. The sense of entitlement those iPhone kool aid drinkers have to demand basic smartphone operations right out of the box.

  4. Carrier Sumbitches

    No chance this can be iPhone worthy since those dastardly carriers are mucking up the software by limiting its full potential and the Galaxy phones need every ounce of their capability just to come near the extremely high bar that Apple has set with the amazing four.

  5. Henry Tsau

    Galaxy S smartphone runs Android.

    Galaxy Tab runs Android.

    Over at LG, things get more confusing.

    The LG Optimus 7 phone runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software. But that does not run on a slate. So the LG Optimus Pad (slate) runs Android.

    Now you’d think that smartphone and slate are essentially the same thing, as the slate is a slightly upscaled smartphone. Therefore they should have the same familiar interface, right? To use a different OS and interface causes consumer confusion.

    This is yet another reason why Microsoft’s phone strategy is doomed.

    • jonesdavide

      Agreed. I currently own a Nexus One running CyanogenMod 6.0 that is vanilla Android with a boat-load of tweaks. I would be buying the Epic now if i could load CM6 on it, but I’m holding off bc of TouchWiz, No Froyo, and lack of Dev Support. I


      Vanilla Android? An even crappier OS? Seriously they need something better than Froyo. Yet another bug. If anyone actually bills against calls taken and duration and wants to bill against data more than a month old you are screwed. It appears that you’ll never have detailed call information past a month and a half with Android’s OS. Definitely not a business grade OS. A spectacular update or contract expiration which ever comes first. Right now Froyo is JUNK!

      • Using call logs from a phone to bill clients is fragile anyway – better to use the records from your mobile service provider, which will still be there even if your phone is lost, stolen or wiped. Or use an app on the phone that backs up the call records – Lookout is one example, and you can schedule it to back up every day.

        Your bug is really a missing feature that most people don’t need.

    • rickybrent

      Yeah, Vanilla Android would be great — no more waking me up in the middle of the night to flick the screen to max brightness, beep and chirp loudly, and pop up a message saying the battery is fully charged.

      I wish I was joking. :(

      (Also, What the *heck*? I swear, every time I try to comment I have to reenter my password despite having it saved. :| It’s bad enough I memorized my wordpress password finally.)

      • Have you figured out how to turn this wtf “feature” off? I’ve had the phone only a couple days and eventually figured out that this is the beep in the middle of the night that keeps waking me up – seriously Samsung?!?

        Otherwise, going to have to root phone earlier than I had planned.

  6. worldbfree4me

    I’m gonna reserve my judgement on the Galaxy line, but judging by Sammys past, quite a few still have a bitter taste in their mouths. If Sammy really wanted to step to the plate, they would have mentioned an ETA on Froyo for this line and other models that seem to have been left behind.

  7. Just to put these number in perspective, Apple sells 8M iPhones a quarter. If Samsung really manages to sell 10M Galaxy S by the end of the year, it’ll sell around 30% as many Androids as Apple sells iPhones. Now, apple might increase the iPhone sales rate, but we need to remember that the Galaxy only came out in the second quarter.
    Very impressive achievement for Samsung.