The longer Apple stays quiet about the iPhone 5, the better Samsung's chances.
The first few iterations of the iPhone drew worldwide attention for their ability to inspire thousands of people to queue up in lines across the globe. Some camped out for days in order to guarantee their shot at owning the Next Big Thing on day one. While successive versions of the iPhone continue to draw sizeable crowds, no other phone has caused nearly the same level of mass hysteria. The longest Android phone lines I've seen were during the Evo launch- ten people or so. And that was hardly a nationwide phenomenon.
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But new evidence suggests that one Android phone may have what it takes to beat the iPhone in hype. The Samsung Galaxy S II has already launched in Korea, and the Verizon version is expected to launch between May and June. Variants for all four carriers are expected to launch this year, a mirror of the original Galaxy S. Despite the fact that pre-orders are not even open for all carrier, three million people have signed up to buy the phone when it launches.
Samsung's current estimate is for ten million S II sales by the end of 2011. Looking at these numbers, that seems overly conservative. At this point, I'd be surprised if the Verizon and AT&T models don't launch to long lines and substantial fanfare. There's a lot of curiosity about dual-core smartphones, but the Galaxy S II has brand recognition and a polished look that will appeal to those scared off by the Atrix.
I've had a chance to play with this phone, and it definitely qualifies as the best Android handset yet. Samsung has an eye for design, and the S II is distinctive enough to draw a lot of eyes to its opening. A phone that qualifies as a fashion accessory (ala the iPhone) is more likely to cause the compulsive 'need' that prompts consumers to wake up in the dark, early morning and stand around with a bunch of strangers.
People don't go crazy for products they can't show off to their friends. And the Galaxy S II is as showy as a phone gets.
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Those rumors of an iPhone 5 delay may end up helping Samsung reach the critical mass to get a real launch spectacle going. If the S II goes on sale before Apple makes any announcement about their next mobile device, many would-be customers may decide to try this shiny, powerful Android alternative. And if the iPhone 5 actually is delayed, Samsung pretty much has a clear lock on the whole summer.