It has been five-and-a-half years since the debut of Apple's original iPhone, and the franchise continues to be the dominant player in the smartphone space, not only in terms of market share, but also in terms of profitability and innovation.
But now, technocrats and device geeks are as excited about a phone fight as they've been in a long time, thanks in part to the lack of an updated iPhone 5, as well as some aggressive pre-launch promotion by Samsung for its new Galaxy S III.
"I'm glad to see that the Samsung marketing folks are alive and well and spending the company's money, but is it really going to drive anything?" asks Dave Garrity, Principal with GVA Research, in the attached video. "I haven't seen anything yet that tells me that."
To add insult to injury, Samsung has now become the victim of a "high demand" delay.
So much for talk that this South Korean import is going to be the ''iPhone killer."
Despite the fact that the Galaxy S III has a bigger screen than its California cousin, in addition to voice-recognition software that allows you to ask your phone questions (expect to be answered in a soft, slightly cyborgian female voice—just like Apple's Siri function), the real delineation may come down to good 0ld price. However, with so many different data plans, models, features, and discounts to chose from, making an apples-to-Apple comparison, so to speak, is not that easy.
"The fact that Samsung is coming out and matching, feature-for-feature...unless they're coming in at a price point that is radically less expensive and can offer a similar experience, then it is just another phone," Garrity says. That, however, is not the opinion of everyone in the tech world. The New York Times' David Pogue calls it a "bright, beautiful star" in the smartphone universe.
Regardless of what any given tech reviewer says, once the veil of secrecy has been lifted, any advantage Samsung may have could prove to be fleeting. That's because Apple not only has what is called a supply-chain advantage (by way of the amount of available electronic components that it has control of through manufacturing contracts), but it's also about to refresh its own product line. When it does, ''old iPhones" suddenly get really cheap, and many consumers will be perfectly happy with last year's model at a discount, rather than forking over a premium for the latest and greatest gadget of the moment.
"Were I Apple," Garrity says, "I am not so much concerned about seeing Samsung in my rear-view mirror, I may not even look in my rear-view mirror. However, in the case of [Blackberry-maker] Research in Motion (RIM) and Nokia (NOK), Samsung is coming right through the windshield."
Just like in boxing, to beat the champ you have to knock him out. Given the strength and advantages of the current smartphone title-holder, it might be premature to put a call in to the undertaker for iPhone just yet.