(News Focus) Samsung-Galaxy S4 outlook

By Lee Minji

SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co. is poised to bolster its smartphone market dominance with the launch of its latest Galaxy device featuring improved hardware and user experience features amid a lack of threat from rival manufacturers, analysts said Friday.

The top smartphone maker unveiled the Galaxy S4, the latest of its flagship Galaxy S line-up that has topped a combined 100 million in sales worldwide, in a glitzy Broadway-style show at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.

The debut on the home turf of Samsung Electronics' key rival Apple Inc. has drawn sharp attention as the extension of their ongoing battle to claim the leading position in the smartphone market.

While Samsung Electronics emerged as the world's biggest smartphone maker with the success of its Galaxy S3 phones, the company has been vying fiercely with the U.S. phone maker with an established base of loyal consumers and reputation for innovation.

Analysts said the South Korean tech giant may gain an upper hand as it turns to adding new user experience features and honing its marketing strategy.

Samsung Electronics packed its latest gadget with improved hardware such as a 5-inch full HD Super AMOLED display and an octa-core processor, but also equipped the Galaxy S4 with user experience features that enable face, motion and voice commands.

The "smart pause" feature activates the screen when users look at a video and pauses it when they look away. The "smart scroll" feature scrolls up and down by detecting the user's face and wrist movements.

The Galaxy S4 also comes with "air view" and "air gesture" features that allow users to control their smartphone displays by hovering their fingers over the screen.

"Octa-core processors and new displays are great but consumers may not care much about them. It's the user experience features that will differentiate Samsung Electronics from other competitors," KDB Daewoo Securities Co. James Song said by phone.

Song cited the floating touch and eye tracking technologies as well as fun camera technologies that Samsung Electronics could use to bolster its footing.

Samsung Electronics' marketing tactics will be a deciding factor in the success of the Galaxy S4, the analyst said, approving the company's shift to softening up the product launch with vignettes showing the smartphone in action.

Analysts, meanwhile, projected Galaxy S4 sales to reach roughly 20 million units in the second quarter and 70 million units this year, making it the company's best-selling phone.

The company said it plans to roll out the Galaxy S4 in the second quarter via 327 operators in 155 countries, including key mobile operators such as AT&T, Vodafone and Telefonica.

"The timing is really the best for the Galaxy S4," said Woori Investment & Securities Co. analyst Park Young-joo.

"There are no flagship models by competitors and there are consumers out there waiting to change their iPhone 4 and Galaxy S2 devices," Park said by phone.

Samsung Electronics' key rival Apple has remained quiet since the launch of its first long-term evolution phone, the iPhone 5, in September, while a growing number of Chinese manufacturers are still largely focused on the low-to-mid segment.

"With the Galaxy S4, Samsung Electronics' market share is likely to exceed 40 percent in the second quarter," said Park.

Samsung Electronics controlled 30.4 percent of the global smartphone market last year, surpassing No. 2 player Apple's 19.4 percent, according to the data by Strategy Analytics.

In the overall handset market, including smartphones and feature phones, the company's market share came to 23.7 percent, topping Nokia's 19.6 percent and Apple's 8 percent, according to the data by International Data Corp.

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