The Next Big Thing may already be here but the next next big thing is about to show its fangs on March 14th in New York City. I’d like to take a look at how the impending unveiling of Samsung’s next flagship device, Galaxy S IV, may impact the sales of its closest competitors. The usual suspects Apple, BlackBerry, HTC and Nokia will all be put under the microscope. I’ll take a look at each company’s flagship offering in order of most impacted to least impacted by the Galaxy S IV’s arrival. Shall we get started.
There are mixed reports of how well the initial launch of the BlackBerry reboot is going. Some analysts and channel checkers are drastically cutting their projections from several million in the quarter to a few hundred thousand. Others are citing figures like the best selling start for any BlackBerry device ever to back up their claims that the future is as bright as they thought and that BlackBerry is firmly in the game. Given the relative size of the U.K. and Canadian market when it comes the global smartphone market even great success in these two markets can’t shield the company from losing even more market share going forward. Here’s why.
The Galaxy S IV carries the positive imagery of the Galaxy brand. Just taking a look at the recent Super Bowl adverts and last night’s Oscars takeover Samsung has already begun laying the groundwork for the Galaxy S IV’s arrival. I had a few people on my Facebook friend list talking about the iPhone 5 and someone chimed in to ask when is the Galaxy S IV coming out. Folks, when someone interrupts an iPhone conversation to ask specifically for the release date of the next Galaxy S you know Samsung is doing things right.
Not only is Samsung laying the groundwork by Saturating the market with clever and simple marketing they have begun to very publicly cite their business security features. They are clearly making a concerted play for enterprise customers and they are doing so on two fronts. The ATIV brand from Windows Phone in coordination with Microsoft and the Galaxy brand running Android and their S.A.F.E. & Knox initiatives.
I guarantee Samsung releases the Galaxy S IV to record numbers globally that dwarf BlackBerry. What is even more important is that now people can feel relatively confident the new Galaxy S IV will be released in the next couple months. People have no problem waiting for a much desired phone and will turn a blind eye to anything that does not completely blow them away both in features and popularity. It is a case of bad timing for BlackBerry in the U.S. The delay of the BlackBerry Z10 & Q10 in the U.S. to mid-March means the hype around the Galaxy S IV will be at a fever pitch and nobody who isn’t a BlackBerry fanboy will bother giving the BlackBerry Z10 a second look.
Prediction: Galaxy S IV will sell 25x or better than the BlackBerry Z10 from the moment it is announced.
This was a toss up between the HTC One and Nokia Lumia 920. Both will be heavily affected by the arrival of the Galaxy S IV but I’ll lean towards the HTC One as being more adversely affected by the debut of the Galaxy flagship.
There is no doubt HTC put their best device forward with the introduction of the HTC One. The longer it takes for the One to arrive in stores globally the worse HTC’s fate will be. Never forget that Samsung has the benefit of strong nationalistic support. That will guarantee millions of phones sold in the opening weekend. Globally the Galaxy brand is so much stronger than the One brand mostly due to HTC’s inability to prioritize marketing. The One is an excellent device from both a hardware and software standpoint. The one thing I’ve learned in business is that consumers are sold things. Samsung will make sure their Galaxy S IV will be on all the major carriers and carry prime positioning by the staff. HTC, if history is any indication, will leave it up to phone to sell itself. The One is too good not to sell any units so it will sell but far below the level HTC needs to regain their good fortunes. A shame really but HTC is to blame and nobody else.
HTC clearly doesn’t have any intention of positioning the One as a business device and instead is playing to the “cool” crowd. Unfortunately people have become engrained in how they relate to the world around them. BlinkFeed won’t change anything and neither will HTC Zoe. People will browse Facebook, load pictures up and share through Instagram and use Twitter to keep up to date. Investing so heavily in “me too” features will prove to be their undoing.
Prediction: Galaxy S IV will dominate Android sales for 2013 and the biggest loser in all of this will be HTC who continues to make solid hardware but stubbornly continues to invest and waste millions in pushing their Sense paradigm.
Nokia Lumia 920
Having been out on the market the longest the Lumia 920 will definitely be viewed as last year’s offering. There are two things that lead me to believe it will fare better than the HTC One when it is up against the Galaxy S IV. First, Nokia is running Windows Phone which gives it a completely different marketing battle against Samsung. They both are positioning themselves as business capable devices and they both have compelling features to promote. HTC shows no signs of caring about such things. Nokia, however, managed to insulate themselves against the next wave of devices by stuffing so much great technology into the Lumia 920. It still comes equipped with NFC & Wireless charging. It still features a fantastic camera, can be had for much lower than the Galaxy S IV and has proven to substantially upgrade the mindshare it enjoys with consumers.
Just this morning Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced that over 100 businesses were undergoing trials to test the Lumia 920 as a business device. Couple that with recent public announcements and the company clearly has momentum going. The Lumia 920 was engineered to have staying power for the next year even up against what the company surely knew would be an onslaught of quad-core devices that would make their way to market before the next flagship would roll off the Nokia assembly line.
Prediction: Galaxy S IV will sell about 15x better than the Lumia 920. But that doesn’t spell doom for Nokia. The Lumia 920 will continue to see adoption and drive the Lumia brand forward while helping the company position itself for it’s next flagship device.
Apple iPhone 5S?
Certainly the only brand that trumps the Galaxy brand in today’s mobile space is the iPhone. The battle for best selling phone of 2013 will no doubt come down to the next iteration of the iPhone and the Galaxy S IV. Apple has seemingly been in a lull in advertising the iPhone recently. Instead much of the focus has been on continuing to push the iPad family of devices into the consumer focus.
Apple enjoys strong supply chain and strong pinned up demand for the iPhone. We all know that the iPhone will sell in the tens of millions each quarter in 2013 that it is available. The only question is can it once again outsell the Galaxy S flagship. I’m talking strictly the 5S. My hunch here is that the iPhone will continue to sell like hotcakes especially if Samsung focuses too much on niche, gimmicky features that most people don’t care about and won’t ever use like floating gestures.
Prediction: The Galaxy S IV will be outsold by the next iteration of the iPhone 5S when it is released. Apple will have had the opportunity to craft a story around the iPhone’s advantages and will have missed most of the initial launch buzzsaw that the Galaxy S IV will create. If the expected 5in. display size is true that will turn off enough people to keep the title of best selling phone with Apple.