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June 4th 2012 12:22 pm

Why Samsung launching the Galaxy S III on five US carriers simultaneously is a big deal

You probably saw the news this morning that Samsung is going to be introducing their new Galaxy S III flagship phone on five US carriers at essentially the same time. And unlike with the Galaxy S II, where Samsung basically did a customized version of the phone for each carrier, apart from differences in chipsets, radios, and what apps come pre-loaded, they're basically offering the same handset for everyone.

This is important for a few reasons:

1. It shows that the balance of power with the carriers has shifted, at least somewhat, into Samsung's favor. Typically the carriers demand exclusivity, whether in terms of hardware, launch window, etc. Last time around they got what they wanted, but Samsung's clout as a seller of smartphones has increased so much over the past few years -- they now sell more than anyone else -- that they were better able to dictate the terms for the S3. Notice how none of the carriers got their logo on the front? Apple was able to get that from day one with the iPhone, and the fact that Samsung has been able to get that too now is significant.

2. Having one form-factor makes it easier to build an accessories ecosystem. I know that this stuff usually isn't a primary consideration for most people when buying a phone (gdgt.com­/question­/how­-important­-is­-availability­-of...), but the fact that there is only one design for the iPhone each year has made it considerably easier for there to develop a large market of third-party cases, docks, and other accessories. Samsung will surely sell tons of the S3, which means accessory makers will be more inclined to invest in making stuff for it, which in turn will make the S3 more attractive to buyers. It's the kind of virtuous circle that Apple has been able to tap into, and if Samsung is smart they will do everything possible to encourage it as well.

3. It will be easier for Samsung to concentrate its marketing efforts on one device rather than several. Samsung has certainly been successful in selling tons of the S2, but with so many different models with so many different designs it was difficult to create a single, holistic campaign around it. With essentially a single model that will be available from five carriers with a combined subscriber base topping 300 million, Samsung is free to focus its efforts on creating general awareness for the S3, knowing that if people want it they will most likely be able to get it from the carrier of their choice.

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Re: carrier logos - even though they aren't on the faces of the devices, they seem to be showing up on the rears.

Either way, this is absolutely a step in the right direction for the industry. As is Samsung being able to launch on every carrier simultaneously and avoid exclusivities, as well as delays due to carrier customizations.
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Thanks, will correct to make it clear I meant just on the front.
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Point #2 is a big one for me. It actually prevented me from buying the Galaxy Nexus for my wife because the car mount was pretty much non-existent. Glad to see Samsung copying some un-patent-able strategies that Apple excels at.
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I think it also puts the carriers in direct competition for the selling and PRICING of this device. VZW had recently decided that flagship LTE devices would sell for $299 out of the gate and have done this with all major releases for the past 6+ months. The fact that the 16GB version is starting at $199 on VZW must be (imo) a direct result of this simultaneous launch. Huzzah I sez!
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Great point! I didn't even notice that! I also think that this pricing has been good across the board as I think the pricing of Android and other OS based devices helped push down the price of the iPhone. Competition is great!
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Great points! When Apple came out with the iPhone in 2007 the deal with Cingular/ATT was unprecedented. We had not ever before had a mobile phone manufaturer able to own the phones software in the same way. I think this leads to a better customer experience. I like being able to go to a place, other than ATT to buy my phone. I like being able to update my phone when the update is ready as opposed to waiting for carriers, I like having choice. This is something that has held me back from going to Android from iOS. Once you have tasted this freedom, it is hard to go back and the era of differentiating phones solely based on software is over(meaning the OS and holding updates back just so people upgrade) is over. I am happy to see this and hope the trends continue. I think people should have two main considerations for phones, much the same way we do for a computer. What is the best hardware, and what is the best software.. not what is the best hardware... and hopefully it gets updated to the best software(which the end user has not choice in). I think this is a win win.

Great post.

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I thought I did see a picture with a Verizon logo on the back of the phone? I had wanted to get an S III, but I wasn't sure when they were coming out. I also wanted to keep my unlimited plan. So a couple of weeks ago I jumped and purchased a Galaxy Nexus as I was sure that Verizon would introduce their shared data plans before they released the S III getting all those who were drooling over the S III to give up the unlimited data for the new phone. That now doesn't seem to be the case. I am still very happy with the Nexus.
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Peter, wonderful reasoning to which I absolutely agree.

Just to add the Samsung Galaxy S II sold over 20 million units. With this flagship model Samsung´s ambitions are surely much higher. If they have variations then it would mess up their supply and production chain too.

I guess they delayed the US launch to conclude their discussions with all major US carriers and hammer out this agreement. The Carriers have all toed the line as they all know this product is surely a 100 % winner. No carrier however strong can ignore a winner. Specially the Samsung Galaxy S III which is staking its place right at the Top Number 1 spot within the Smart Phone category.
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