Samsung released the Galaxy S III in Europe on May 29, which means that the mobile clone wars will start any minute now. The difference between the release of the S3 and other Android devices is that this time, Samsung clearly has the Apple iPhone 4S in its sights, complete with a clone of Apples attention-grabbing Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant. However, its worth noting that Samsung has chosen the vastly less romantic name of S-Voice for this personal assistant.
The Samsung S3 runs the most recent version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The phone hardware seems to be an evolutionary update from earlier Galaxy devices. Theres the usual front and rear facing cameras with resolution of 8 and 2 megapixels, respectively. Theres something called Smart Stay in which the phone watches you while you read or watch whatever is on the screen and it only goes to sleep when you do (or when you tell it to).
Samsung has also launched a music service it calls the Music Hub that is intended to compete directly with iTunes. The phone was released first in London, where excited buyers lined up outside stores selling the Galaxy S III as much as 24 hours in advance. Sound familiar?
The Galaxy S III will arrive in the United States about three weeks after the launch in Europe. If past patterns are an example, the phone will be offered by pretty much every carrier which carries the Galaxy S2 now, which is basically all of them.
With the launch of a new smartphone that looks a lot like the white iPhone, along with some apps that seem to be a lot like whats on the iPhone and a music service that competes with iTunes, it would seem that Samsung has thrown the gauntlet directly at Apples feet. Theres no question at this point that Samsung is gunning for Apple.
Theres also no question that Apple will accept the challenge and then hand it off to the company lawyers who will file suit against Samsung for everything from copying the Siri personal assistant to generally being annoying. But Samsung and Apple have tangled before and its a safe bet that Samsungs lawyers vetted the new product thoroughly before letting it be released into the world.
But just because Samsung has certainly had its lawyers do their homework doesnt mean Apple isnt going to try and tie up the new device in court for as long as possible. And this will likely happen almost immediately in Europe where Apples lawyers have apparently found a supply of judges who dont really understand copyright and patent law, but are willing to rule on it anyway.