A rogue Korean group has professed a desire to take over the United States.
No, we are not talking about Kim Jong Un, nuclear missiles or an army of North Koreans on U.S. soil. This rogue Korean group is decidedly more friendly. Some might even call them downright pleasant. Samsung, the South Korean gadget manufacturer, is launching its new Galaxy S4 flagship smartphone Thursday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. And it is most definitely gunning for the iPhone on Apple’s home turf.
Attack Apple On Its Home Turf
The Korea Times, citing insider sources at Samsung, reports that the company wants to dethrone the iPhone in the U.S. Samsung apparently chose New York City for the launch event because it, “is nicknamed the Big Apple, which is also the symbol and heart of the United States, Samsung picked that city for the event.’’
“By releasing the S4 on Apple’s home-turf, Samsung wants to show we can effectively manage our smartphone business even in the United States,’’ said an insider in The Korea Times interview.
Samsung is the biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world. Everywhere on the globe it kicks the snot out of Apple with multiple smartphones at varying prices and sizes. Everywhere, that is, except for the United States.
Ah, America. Baseball. Apple pie. Carolina barbecue. And… the iPhone. Apple dominates the U.S. through the top three carriers – AT&T, Sprint, Verizon – selling subsidized smartphones to hungry masses. In the last quarter of 2012, Verizon sold more iPhones than Androids for the first time ever. About 50% of Sprint’s smartphone sales are of the Apple derivation and AT&T (which launched the iPhone and had exclusivity for years) sells between 70%-80% iPhones in any given quarter. See the chart from mobile analyst Ben Evans below.
So, you can understand Samsung’s desire.
Hardware, Software & Marketing, Oh My
Samsung thinks it can conquer the U.S. with great hardware and software features. For the upcoming Galaxy S4, that includes the alleged Exynos “Octa-core” processor, a five-inch display and 2GB of RAM, according to The Korea Times. Samsung’s approach will also include custom-built apps and software features, which may or may not include “Eye Scrolling.” Eye Scrolling is supposed to be a way to navigate your smartphone with visual cues, as opposed to touch.
“These wow factors will draw attention. If we can beat Apple on its home turf, then we will be seen as the real global leader in smartphones by consumers,” the Samsung insider said.
We firmly expect the Samsung to come out with some interesting features at Radio City on Thursday. But, whatever the Galaxy S4 entails, that will be window dressing to the marketing that will erupt from Samsung in the U.S. this year.
The first salvos have already been launched. Samsung enlisted A-list U.S. actors Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen (and Lebron James) for its Super Bowl commercial. The company has been teasing the Galaxy S4 launch with a series of videos starring the preppy brat known as Jeremy Maxwell. Once the Galaxy S4 hits shelves, look for Samsung-specific commercials to come from T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Samsung thinks it can win the advertising and marketing war and will spend a ton to do so.
That’s all well and good (especially to ad-hungry U.S. media corporations), but Samsung’s ideas of what plays in the U.S. might be slightly off-kilter. Exhibit A: Jeremy Maxwell. Really, who the hell is this kid? Is this what Samsung thinks of when it imagines the prototypical American child? This Richie Rich clone has his own butler and power ties. It is like something out of a Wes Anderson movie. If Samsung wants to conquer the U.S., it cannot pander to the white elite demographic represented by such figures as Jeremy Maxwell.
The Smartphone Battle Of America will definitely be intriguing as 2013 progresses. Can the Koreans unseat the Almighty Apple? We will be at Radio City in New York on Thursday to see the first shots fired.
Top image: Samsung Galaxy S4 teaser photo from Samsung Mobile US Twitter account