Samsung pushes Samsung-branded content, services with Galaxy S4 launch


Samsung Electronics took the veil off its new Galaxy S4 smartphone, the new, top-of-the-line flagship smartphone from the world's largest vendor of handsets and smartphones. Importantly, the company is also promoting a range of Samsung-branded services and applications with the phone, including Samsung Hub, Samsung WatchON, Samsung Apps, Samsung ChatON and Group Play.

Samsung Galaxy S4

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During a press event in New York City, Samsung outlined the wide array of features and functions the S4 can support--including offerings that are unique to Samsung's phone and not available through Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) standard Android operating system. The move is an attempt by Samsung to help set itself apart from the large and growing number of Android handset vendors like LG Electronics, HTC, ZTE and others.

While many of Samsung's content and service offerings have been discussed before, the company used its press event to provide details and updates for each. Perhaps more importantly, the S4 essentially serves as a repository for all of the content and services offerings that Samsung has been rolling out during the past several months.

Specifically, Samsung said the S4 will support its Hub service, which allows users to purchase movies, books, TV shows and other content through a "Samsung Account"--notably not a Google account. The company also said the S4 will support its WatchON service, introduced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February. The video discovery service allows users to control their TV with their phone and also  allows users to download movies and TV shows from Samsung's Media Hub, Blockbuster or Netflix. The service also provides "multi-screen capabilities, recommendations, one-stop search functionality, and social sharing functionality," the company said.

Further, Samsung said the S4 supports its Apps service, "a newly updated service that provides search functionality for applications in Samsung Apps, which are specialized for Samsung devices." Not surprisingly, Samsung said the S4 also supports Google Play apps. In addition, the S4 will support Samsung's ChatON messaging service, which offers video, voice and text chat and is essentially Samsung's alternative to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iMessage and BlackBerry's (NASDAQ:BBRY) Messenger.

And, in targeting the enterprise market, Samsung said the S4 will be able to run its Knox service, which the company said can protect against malicious software and also can create separate digital spaces for users' work and personal content, simialr to BlackBerry Balance.

The S4 will include technology from mobeam that will allow it to beam traditional 1-D barcodes to other gadgets. Samsung and mobeam said the technology will allow S4 owners to conduct mobile commerce services.

Finally, Samsung said the S4 will be its first phone to support its Group Play service, which the company said enables users to "experience sharing photos, music, documents and games with their friends wherever they are, without the need for a network environment." Interestingly, Samsung said it will provide a public SKD for its Group Play service, a move the company hopes will encourage third-party developers to "develop various types of games in the future."

Though Samsung sought to shock and awe with the range of services available on the S4, some were not impressed. Samsung "needs to build a stronger set of content offerings that cross its various platforms, so that it can extend its leadership in smartphones into the tablet space, and give consumers a reason to buy into an 'all-Samsung' experience with their consumer electronics," said Jan Dawson, chief telecom analyst at Ovum. "Overall, there are lots of features, but based on past experience most people will never even find them on the device."

For more:
- see this Samsung release
- see this mobeam release
- see this Samsung post

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