In less than twenty-four hours, Samsung will launch its Galaxy S IV. Each version of the Galaxy S series has outsold the previous version, and this model has elevated Samsung to the status of the premier Android handset.
The Android set. In 2012, HTC got its HTC One X and One S, out of the door a month ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S III launch. For a month, the HTC One X, was the best smartphone in the world. This year, the Samsung Galaxy S IV will be announced even before the HTC One hits the shelves.
For Sony, things do not look so good to. The Sony Xperia S and SL have been rolling out too slowly to take advantage of its early launch. Ultimately, it is more of a transitional handset, looking more like a last quarter 2012 handset rather than a true 2013 flagship. It is already playing second fiddle to the HTC One, which comes with the newer Qualcomm S600 chipset. It will likely be a third stringer after the Samsung Galaxy S IV is announced. Still, no matter what happens, Sony is in a better position in 2013, than it was in 2011 and 2012.
LG's release cycle is out of sync with the rest of the Android world, so the Samsung Galaxy S IV will be more of a blueprint on what to target with their next flagship and they will simply lower the price of their LG Optimus G and Nexus 4, and try to steal sales from the Samsung Galaxy Note II with their LG Optimus G Pro over the next six months or so. The LG Optimus G is selling at Php24,490 locally, which should be a good 6K less than the price of the Samsung Galaxy S IV, when it hits the local shelves.
Huawei and ZTE, it is not a day of reckoning, and they would be more concerned with releases of entry and mid-level Samsung units. Things like the Samsung Galaxy Grand is more a cause for concern to them.
Apple. Apple, would also be concerned, but to a much lesser degree. While it sales are less affected by Samsung sales, than Android manufacturers, a truly amazing Samsung Galaxy S IV will slow down sales as people decide to wait for the Apple iPhone 5S or 6. With the Samsung Galaxy S IV launching two months earlier this year, speculation would start to swell around an earlier iPhone 5S or 6 launch. While I have no empirical data to prove it, with each passing year the ecosystems keep more users staying with what they have. Apple's fate is in its own hands. It would take a disappointing release from Apple, rather than an amazing Samsung Galaxy S IV to cause a significant exodus to Android. Even than, it would be a small one. It would take two successive disappointing releases for iOS to start to crumble. Apple's iPhone is also the only phone that caters to users who want a smaller handset with top of the line features, and in that sense has a nice corner of the market all to itself.
Others. BlackBerry probably has no illusions about breaking into the market in a big way with their BlackBerry Z10 and Q10. BlackBerry would be happy enough if they are able to get existing BlackBerry users to stay with the platform. Nokia is probably also less concerned with stealing Android and Apple sales, and will be happy enough convincing Nokia buyers to buy Nokia again.
Game changer? Ultimately, the Samsung Galaxy S III was too successful for the Galaxy S IV to shake things up too much. The competition will be worried, but no matter how good the Samsung Galaxy S IV is, it will not be earth shattering enough, save for one company. It is really HTC who is the most concerned. Should its HTC One, wind up in second place again, it might be the last time it enters this arena.