Editorial by Michael Oryl on Monday June 04, 2012.
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Do you know what the U.S. carrier versions of the Samsung Galaxy S III are going to be called? The Galaxy S III. Do you know what they will look like? The Galaxy S III. There won't even be carrier branding on the front of the device.
That is nothing short of amazing to a guy that has been covering the U.S. mobile market for over a decade.
After years of manufacturers that aren't named Apple being forced to create separately named, and often designed, versions of feature phones and smartphones for each carrier, Samsung, the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, has finally done what seemed almost impossible:
It got the U.S. carriers to play ball.
This ball game is one that the rest of the world has been playing nicely at for many, many years. The Samsung Galaxy S was called the Galaxy S in most every world market but the U.S., where it had countless names. The Galaxy S II suffered the same fate. But this time around, the carriers are finally acknowledging that Samsung has the brand clout to sell phones, and that the Galaxy S series is its strongest model brand.
HTC, with its spectacular One X, couldn't pull that off earlier this year. Sprint insisted on launching the device as the poorly named HTC EVO 4G LTE, and also forced HTC to clad it in an all-new body that looked very EVO-like. AT&T launched a device called the One X, which would seem to be a victory for HTC, but it was really the company's One XL that AT&T insisted on calling the One X. So no points there, either.
But this isn't the first time that Samsung has had some success in flexing its muscle with U.S. carriers. Samsung scored a victory when it first launched the aforementioned Galaxy S in the U.S. just by getting all of the major U.S. carriers to offer it at roughly the same time. Each device had its own name, some individual hardware features, and customized software, but it was the first time that a major smartphone had been launched without strong carrier exclusivity. At the time, that was a very hard sell for Samsung.
To manage that, Samsung had to agree to a significant marketing campaign that it funded. The same is true of the Galaxy S III today. The carriers are relying on Samsung to toot its own horn to a great extent this time around, and for that they are willing to let Samsung sell the phone the way it wishes. Even in the colors it wishes (blue and white).
As a guy that has reviewed countless minor variants of what have been the same basic phones, I can't tell you how happy that makes me.
The rest of the world and I would like to welcome the U.S. carriers to the ball game. Thanks for playing.