Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), challenging Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s iPhone, began rolling out its Galaxy S III flagship smartphone in the U.S. through T-Mobile USA Inc.
The touch-screen device will be available from the three other largest U.S. carriers -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. (T:US) and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S:US) -- in the coming weeks, the Suwon, South Korean-based company said today in a statement.
While Samsung makes a range of phones, the company is focusing its advertising on the Galaxy III, kicking off the largest U.S. campaign for a mobile device in its history. Samsung is taking aim at the iPhone, currently the best-selling smartphone at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. T-Mobile, the Galaxy S III’s initial carrier, doesn’t offer the iPhone, giving it more incentive to make the Samsung product a hit.
“Vendors have been focusing their portfolio toward flagship phones and for Samsung, the Galaxy III will be that high-profile device,” said Mark Sue, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in New York.
T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE), is selling the Galaxy III for $279.99 with a two-year contract. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint will offer it for $199.99 with a two-year commitment.
Apple and Samsung, the top two smartphone makers, have accused each other of design imitations and are waging patent battles on four continents. Apple has said it’s considering a restraining order request to block sales of the Galaxy S III in the U.S. The Cupertino, California-based company lost an earlier appeal to ban Samsung phones from the country last month.
The Galaxy relies on Google Inc.’s Android operating system, the most widely used software on smartphones. While the iPhone dominates smartphone sales at the major U.S. carriers, Samsung outsold Apple globally in the first quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
The next iPhone will probably debut in October, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. in Minneapolis.
The previous Galaxy was a good seller in its own right, helping spur demand for the successor, Sue said.
“I don’t know whether it can exceed the sales pace of the Galaxy II, but the indications are that there is a lot of consumer demand for the Galaxy III,” he said.
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