Samsung releases the Galaxy S5 this week, and it's going to be a quiet launch. No Samsung exec in a turtleneck will stand before throngs of admirers and stir up dreams of personal communications ecstasy, as was the annual practice for iPhone launches. Yet Samsung remains the biggest seller of smartphones on the planet, and Galaxy S5 is its flagship product--the high end orange to Apple's apples. Last year for the S4 launch Samsung pumped up the volume. (The Financial Times described the launch as an "all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza, featuring a full orchestra, a Broadway cast and a tap-dancing child in a live broadcast in New York’s Times Square.")
Why so muted this year? The fanfare for the S4 launch worked: Samsung sold 20 million phones in the two months after launch, and that number has since doubled to 40 million. The Galaxy S4 is the fastest, best-selling smartphone in Samsung history. This even though the influential Walter Mossberg in the Wall Street Journal said that the phone, while good, wasn't a "game changer." Maybe the stealth approach for the S5 is just another marketing strategy. The S5 will likely look to improve on the Galaxy S4 in predictable ways--a better camera, a slightly bigger screen--and it probably has a trick or two up its sleeve also. (Rumors say it might come sheathed in metal and be a bit bigger.) Samsung may have decided it can't justify a launch extravaganza for a few extra megapixels in the camera and a marginally brighter screen. Or maybe the quiet release--speculation is that the phone will debut today at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona--is all part of a new Samsung strategy borrowed from Tom Peters: "under promise and over deliver."
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