Has the Samsung Galaxy Hype Replaced the iPhone Rumor Mill

The Atlantic

Samsung will soon release a new phone for its popular Galaxy line-up, and the rumor-mongers can't stop talking about the specs and designs of their dreams — actually, they're starting to sound a lot like the Apple crowd. While the whisperers scrutinize possible leaked images and gush about wireless charging, a bigger screen, flexible display, and a possible March release date, Samsung itself has stayed mum. "We are going to share the details of the product launch once it's finally ready and confirmed," the company said in a statement via The Wall Street Journal's Evan Ramstad. That's right, Apple's biggest competition in the phone market has learned a thing or two about getting people excited by way of the carefully planted leak, or at least the carefully worded coy response.

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Samsung has been working on this hype-cycle game since for at least a year, since it let the rumor mills build excitement for the Galaxy SIII leading up to its launch in May. That strategy worked out pretty well for Samsung — people lined up for the new phone the night of its release:

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For the first time ever, a Samsung device outsold its iPhone counterpart, with the S3 topping the 4S in the third quarter of 2012. Some of the Apple-loving reviewers also relented. CNET, for the first time ever, ranked an Android phone as the best gadget of 2012, with the Samsung Galaxy S3 taking the top spot from the iPhone 5. That popularity may have something to do with Apple's adding the S3 to its patent lawsuit against Samsung, in hopes to get the phone straight-up banned. 

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The flames of excitement are burning even faster in 2013, according to The Journal (which may also help fan them). "There's definitely more attention this time," said Brian Klug, smartphones editor at Anandtech.com. "With each Galaxy S, there's been more." When the hype cycle does its thing, that's how it works. As we've seen with Apple, each gadget has a "fantasy" phase, where bloggers and fans speculate about dream specs. (Like that flexible screen, for the S4 maybe?) Last year, the rumor mill suggested the S3 would support 3D, which didn't happen, but with such absurd expectations, people loved the phone anyway. After some cooing, of course, the excitable Samsung crowd headed right back into the fantasy phase, generating even more hype than the cycle before, which is where we are right now, allegedly less than two months out from the new Galaxy release. 

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Samsung, however, hasn't taken every strategy from Apple. The South Korean electronics giant has learned the art of the tease. Apple says nothing. Samsung, on the other hand, made a lot of announcements at least year's Consumer Electronics Show that got fans even more excited. It didn't confirm the S4 or anything, but it did announce a new design for cellphone chips that have the techies wondering if these crazy fast Octo-Core processors will make their way into the new Galaxy. (As of now, the rumorers think not, by the way.) 

Of course, with all the beneficial self-generating press that comes with a massive phone hype cycle, Samsung is also vulnerable to the dangerous side of rumors. False reports can potentially hurt a copmany's bottom line, if investors start taking them too seriously. And then, if a phone breaks the cycle the rumor-happy fanboys might turn against the company. 

But Samsung hasn't hit the dark part of the cycle just yet — as of now Samsung gadget creep is alive and well. And Apple's customer loyalty fell for the first time ever, according to Strategy Analytics. Has Samsung's moment finally arrived? 

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