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Samsung Seeks to Out-Innovate Apple

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South Korean electronics maker Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone the Galaxy S4, which boasts innovative features like allowing users to control the screen with their eyes. But initial reviews have been mixed, and industry experts are divided over whether this Samsung phone is ready to outsell and out-innovate its chief rival, Apple.

WASHINGTON, March 15 (By Sasha Horne for RIA Novosti) South Korean electronics maker Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone the Galaxy S4, which boasts innovative features like allowing users to control the screen with their eyes. But initial reviews have been mixed, and industry experts are divided over whether this Samsung phone is ready to outsell and out-innovate its chief rival, Apple.

“The reality is that the smartphone market is one that just has a staggering pace of innovation,” said Charles Golvin, principal analyst for Forrester Research, a Massachusetts-based global consumer research and advisory firm, in an interview with RIA Novosti Friday.

Some of the breakout features of the Samsung Galaxy S4 included built-in sensors that can check the barometric pressure and humidity and a display screen that can be controlled by the wave of a hand or with the user’s eyes. For example while watching a video it will automatically pause if you look away from the screen.

But what is really compelling, Golvin said, is what Samsung has done with its software.

“That is really an area where innovation and differentiation can occur,” he said.

The Galaxy S4 comes equipped with new software that allows users to edit multiple photos together and shoot pictures from the phone’s front- and-rear-facing cameras simultaneously.

If you are in a foreign country and unfamiliar with the language, the phone comes with a built-in translation tool that includes nine languages, Golvin said.

And while some analysts have predicted the Galaxy S4 could become the first Samsung smartphone to outsell the iPhone, others believe the product is overhyped.

“Many of the features that Samsung has incorporated are more of applications which are available from the Apple App Store or Google Play,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research at the California-based Global Equities Research firm in his Friday note to investors.

If a smartphone user is transitioning to the Galaxy S4 from a Blackberry, they would love the phone, Chowdhry said. But for iPhone users, “they see no wow factor,” he said, citing the large size of the phone as a chief complaint among those surveyed at the Samsung launch event in New York Thursday evening.

At the unveiling of the Galaxy S4, Samsung offered little information other than the phone’s functionalities and made no mention of the price, exact release date, carriers that will sell the device, or in which countries the phone will be available.

“That is one difference that continues to stand out to me that demonstrates Apple’s position of power,” Golvin said. “When Apple makes an announcement whether it’s an iPhone or an iPad, you don’t walk away from the event wondering.”

And as far as Apple being out-innovated, Golvin said Apple’s bigger concern is the timing in releasing iPhone products.

“Apple really needs to look at accelerating their product cycle,” Golvin said. “It’s not so much of a concern that competitors phones have features that the iPhone doesn’t, but the current timing just isn’t keeping pace with the competition.”

 

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