MobileBeat: Samsung offers glimpse of superphone future with Galaxy S

Samsung is moving fast into the era of superphones now that it is in the process of launching its Galaxy S smartphones at six different carriers this summer.

The Korean electronics giant has thus had a lot of time to consider what a superphone is: a cross between a computer and a phone. Omar Khan, chief strategy officer at Samsung Telecommunications America, said that users essentially want their phones to be full-fledged computers or netbooks, without the same size display.

“Consumers want the same user experience in an uncompromised fashion,” said Khan, speaking at the afternoon keynote at MobileBeat 2010 in San Francisco today. “It’s the power of a netbook in the palm of your hands.”

Users are driving the push for better hardware. They want to be able to upload photos, watch Netflix movies or YouTube videos, and play high-quality games on superphones. The use of apps such as social networking updates are growing at 427 percent a year, reflecting a big change from the days when users used their phones for just voice and text-messaging.

By 2015, the average household will have 10 web-connected devices, and to become one of those, phone makers have to offer something powerful. Samsung’s first Galaxy S devices use 4-inch super AMOLED displays, 1-gigahertz processors, and are as thin as 9.9 millimeters. Like other big companies in the industry, Samsung is finding it has to make and deliver more of the end solution than it ever has before.

“It’s about screen, speed, and content,” Khan said.

Superphones have to be good at running apps such as Facebook, Pandora, the Weather Channel, Google Maps, YouTube, ESPN and search — those account for more than 60 percent of consumers’ daily use of apps, according to market researchers comScore and Nielsen. But Khan said he expects apps to move toward deeper experiences, including gaming, location services, augmented reality, and full web browsing. At some point, users will share lots of home-made videos across mobile networks. And it will be a given that superphones will have to have multitasking operating systems to do many things as once.

To differentiate its phones, Samsung is trying to deliver a complete solution, including both hardware, software, and third-party apps. Samsung, for instance, has tried to deliver signature experiences on its Galaxy S phones such as full social networking integration, high-quality video capture, and motion-sensing games, Khan said. Samsung has built user interface layers dubbed Social Hub and Media Hub to guide users into their most commonly used activities.

Beyond that, Samsung has to enlist the help of third-party developers to build everyday apps that are every bit as important as the signature apps, Khan said. It’s a very big commitment and, clearly, the Samsung Galaxy S is just the start of the company’s efforts in the superphone market.

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