Earlier this month, Samsung disappointed Android apostles everywhere when it announced that the Galaxy S2 will not be landing at this month’s Mobile World Congress (MWC).
Soon after, the gadget-maker compounded the feeling of deflation. In an official statement it said has no plans to host a press call at the event and will content itself with a mere booth presence, suggesting that whatever products it unveils won't be showstoppers.
So, what to read in to Sammy’s shunning of Europe’s biggest tech expo? Here’s some of what we think could be behind the move.
1 Trade shows won’t get Samsung the column inches it craves
If Samsung had lifted the lid on the S3 at MWC it would be competing for headlines and mindshare with challengers from HTC, the first-ever Sony solo smartphone and oodles of other Android phone-makers. So it’s perhaps not surprising that Samsung has side-stepped the event.
In so doing it’s then free to pick a launch date when the world’s press will have nothing to distract them from the S3. Just as Apple does for its so-called Jesus Phone.
More importantly it can then use that platform to garner maximum hullabaloo for its phone with a bells and whistles showcase that Apple would be proud of. And subtly alter the public’s perception that Samsung breathes the same rarified air as the iPhone-manufacturer.
2 The S3 isn’t ready
When the iPhone 4S wasn’t ready for June (apparently due to problems with Siri), Apple didn’t rush out a product. It waited until it had something market-worthy. That’s something it’s free to do because it doesn’t exhibit at trade shows, the timing of which is set by third parties.
It's not beyond the realms of possibility that something similar to the Siri problem has prompted the S3 delay.
And indeed, if the phone isn’t ready now, why should Samsung risk tarnishing its hard-won rep with an unfinished product by unveiling it at MWC? Far better to wait until the S3 is offering the iPhone-style slick user experience that the mass market demands.
3 Samsung wants to trump the iPhone 5 for specs
According to some tech sages, Samsung opted to postpone its phone until the iPhone 5 drops. This would purportedly allow it to check out what kind of spec sheet Apple’s kit has to offer and trump it.
We can see some logic in this. After all, one of the key selling points over the iPhone of Android phones, and the S2 in particular, is that they’re beefier and brawnier.
However, given that the next iPhone is set to debut in June at the earliest and that Samsung has announced the S3 will make its debut by the end of Q2, this rumour sounds like a non-starter to us.
4 It’s a global thing
Sometimes the correct explanation is the most obvious.
Samsung’s official take on the delay is that it is to clear the way for a simultaneous global release for the S3. And we’re fully prepared to believe that’s the case.
After all, a good deal of the S2’s impact was diluted by the fact that it landed in Europe a full six months before some US carriers got it.
A synchronised international release will also enable Sammy to get the most hype and coverage for its buck. And if its’ going to compete with Apple on a level playing field, that’s essential.
5 Blame the Apple patent spat
Since December, rumours have been rife that changes were being made to the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) version of Android, which powers the S3, to see off a legal challenge from Apple.
A month or so later, Apple did indeed take action. In a filing in a US court, it claimed that ICS infringes on its patents and sought a sales ban for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus - a handset that also runs the up-to-the-minute version of Google's platform.
If Apple is successful and Sammy had gone ahead with the MWC launch, the S3’s challenge to the iPhone could be stopped dead in its tracks - especially if it's withdrawn from sale within weeks of release. By the time Sammy got around to making the changes that would circumvent the embargo, there's every chance that the S3’s ‘moment’ could have passed.
Reading between the lines, it looks as though Samsung could have held fire on the launch of the similarly ICS powered S3 to see exactly what tack Apple was going to take with its lawsuit.
If we're right, it’s now got the information it was after. And is at liberty to take the time it needs to make the changes required so that the S3 passes the patent test.