New York - Samsung took the unusual step
of announcing a broad launch of its flagship Galaxy S Android 2.1 smartphone
through all four national carriers and U.S. Cellular as part of a bid to boost
its smartphone market share.
In the past, handset makers have usually
offered flagship or high-profile models exclusively to a single carrier or
granted exclusivity for a period of about six months. In this case, however, Samsung
announced a rollout beginning July 21 at T-Mobile, with other carriers following. Carriers
AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless used such phrases as "upcoming
availability" or availability "in the coming months" to describe their launch
window. U.S. Cellular said its model would be available in the fall.
charge $199 with a new two-year service agreement and data plan.
Samsung's rollout strategy, said The NPD Group's analyst Ross
Rubin, "is unusual but not unprecedented." The BlackBerry Tour, he noted, was made available to both Verizon and Sprint. "The
branding of the devices under different names while retaining the Galaxy S
sub-brand," he noted,
"is even more unusual, though, perhaps unprecedented, at least in the U.S."
One reason for the launch through five
be that Sprint and Verizon "have already committed to pushing signature
exclusive devices relatively recently," Rubin
continued. Those models are the HTC-made EVO 4G at Sprint and the Motorola
Droid X at Verizon.
of the Galaxy-class devices, each carrier will get a variation of the same
handset for their 3G networks,
with T-Mobile getting a HSPA+ version, AT&T getting an HSPA model, and
Sprint getting a dual-mode 3G/4G version. Sprint's model will be the carrier's
second 3G/4G phone following the recent launch of the
HTC-made Evo. Each carrier's version will
a different name. T-Mobile's model
is called the
Vibrant. AT&T's is the Captivate. Verizon's phone is the Fascinate. U.S.
Cellular's is simply called the Galaxy S.
In other points of differentiation, the Sprint
model will get a slide-from-the-side QWERTY keyboard and, like the Sprint Evo,
two cameras. One camera will be front-facing for video chatting over data.
All feature Android 2.1 OS, 4-inch multitouch
touchscreen with virtual QWERTY keyboard, 1GHz Samsung processor, 720p
high-definition video capture and playback, 5-megapixel camera/camcorder with
autofocus and LED flash, six-axis sensor, stereo Bluetooth, DLNA-certified Wi-Fi
connectivity, 2GB of embedded memory, and proprietary Super AMOLED LCD display
for a thinner, brighter and less-reflective display. The phones will also access Samsung's Social Hub, which
aggregates social networks, e-mail, contacts and calendars.
In addition, Verizon and Sprint said
their models would be equipped with an embedded Wi-Fi hot spot, and AT&T,
Sprint and T-Mobile said their models would access the Samsung Media Hub, which
will be available "in the coming months" to download movies and TV shows from
Paramount for rent or purchase. AT&T, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular did not
mention whether they would activate the Galaxy's embedded hot spot, and Verizon
and U.S. Cellular did not say whether their models would access Samsung's Media
T-Mobile did say its Galaxy would come
with included 2GB memory card loaded with James Cameron's "Avatar" movie,
preloaded Amazon Kindle for Android app, MobiTV service to stream live and
on-demand TV content over 3G, and Slacker Radio.
AT&T said its model would operate in
3G mode in foreign 2.1GHz networks and offer free access to AT&T Wi-Fi hot