Samsung is hoping to regain momentum in its battle with Apple, announcing global product launches of a virtual reality headset, another big screen phablet, and updates to the Galaxy smartphone and Gear line-ups. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Samsung executives spread out from Berlin to New York with one message: they are not laying down and letting Apple roll over them. The company behind the first phablet: one part big-screen phone, one part small tablet is hoping to regain its lead in that category with the Galaxy Note 4. The company's global marketing executive DJ Lee took the stage in Berlin. SOUNDBITE: PRESIDENT AND HEAD OF GLOBAL SALES AND MARKETING OFFICE, MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS BUSINESS, DJ LEE, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The Galaxy Note 4 will continue to set industry standards for how a smartphone should help our lives become more enriched, more enjoyable and more efficient." To differentiate it in a crowded field of lower priced and higher priced competition, Samsung also launched a virtual sidekick to the phablet, teaming up with Facebook's Oculus to launch Gear VR. The virtual reality headset will put high-definition video watching and gaming literally in the face of consumers. That's something Apple can't do, says Jan Dawson, chief analyst, at JackDaw Research. SOUNDBITE: JAN DAWSON, CHIEF ANALYST, JACKDAW RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: "A lot of this gaming is going to be from the console crowd that's really dedicated to hard core gaming but there's also going to be an element of this market that's open to people that will have a big stake in mobile gaming, who want to expand and extend that experience in new ways and so I think Samsung is smart to get into this and they are certainly among the mobile phone vendors - will have that space to themselves for at least a while." The Galaxy Note Edge did get some attention from the likes of Guenther Boguschewski. The curved screen on the side edge of the phone allows users to stay focused on the main screen without having to respond to calendar reminders or incoming emails. SOUNDBITE: GUENTHER BOGUSCHEWSKI, JOURNALIST, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "For me the most curious thing is the Galaxy Edge because I heard some rumors but it was years ago, so it was for me something new, and it was the most, the best device for me because the Galaxy 4 is similar to the Galaxy Note 3." Similarity also plagued a refresh of the Gear smartwatch on its one-year anniversary. SOUNDBITE: JAN DAWSON, CHIEF ANALYST, JACKDAW RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They are doing what Samsung does best, which is try lots of different things and see what works for them but I'm kind of afraid for them that none of these things is really going to knock it out of the park in a way that they'll be able to get the momentum going again." And that's what Samsung needs to do - it's been overtaken as the smartphone leader in China and the Galaxy S5 is being outsold globally by an older iPhone, with a new challenge from Apple expected to be revealed next week.