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Apple-Samsung rivalry intensifies with September device launches

Matt Hamblen | Aug. 13, 2013
iPhone 5S needs leading-edge innovation to stand out from cheaper, near-equal Androids, analysts said.

Apple's unveiling of its iPhone 5S is expected Sept. 10, just six days after Samsung's launch in Germany of its next Galaxy gadget, probably a Note III smartphone-tablet.

While the two products aren't directly comparable, the timing of the two announcements is another reminder of the intense rivalry between Apple and Samsung. The South Korean device maker is clearly putting pressure on Apple to produce exciting new products at each launch and to differentiate iPhones from a wide range of Android phones made by Samsung and others, analysts said.

"Even though the [new Samsung and Apple] phones aren't directly comparable, Samsung's launch timing was designed to steal attention away from Apple's new iPhones," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "Samsung didn't want to give Apple an unencumbered path to receive all the week's attention."

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple hasn't confirmed its launch date or what it will launch, although AllThingsD cited unnamed sources sources saying the next iPhone will be launched Sept. 10.

Apple may also roll out a cheaper iPhone, according to various reports, possibly named the iPhone 5C, with the C referring to different colors of plastic cases.

Samsung all but said recently that it will launch a Galaxy Note IIIsmartphone- tablet, putting it in the category commonly called a phablet. Analysts still count the Note devices in the smartphone group, however. The device is expected to have a writing stylus that reports say will work on a 6.3-in. touchscreen, compared with the current iPhone 5's 4-in. screen.

Samsung makes a number of smartphones, and the Galaxy S4 is the closest to the iPhone 5. The next-generation successor to the S4 is expected next year.

Globally, Samsung sells more than double the number of smartphones as Apple, but in the U.S., Apple still has sizable marketing allure over the Seoul-based Samsung since Apple is based in California and created the first idyllic iPhone six years ago, analysts said.

Samsung shipped 73 million smartphones in the second quarter, making it the largest Android maker by far, while Apple shipped 31.2 million, iPhones, IDC said last week.

Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst, said Samsung, with its Sept. 4 Galaxy launch in Berlin, stands to "steal a bit of thunder from Apple, but does it really matter? No....There's a difference between an Apple fan and a Google Android fan -- most have a definite preference."

Still, Samsung and Apple are clearly locked in "an all-out battle for supremacy in the smartphone handset market," Kagan added.

How important will the two September launches and early weeks of marketing be in the continuing Samsung-Apple competition?

 

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