Opinion – Samsung’s marketing muscle will ensure the success of the Galaxy S4

Whatever Samsung unpacks tonight will face its stiffest competition to date in the ever-evolving Android arena. But not in marketing spend

Of course, your joy might be slightly sullied by the knowledge that you’ve since been unseated by the HTC One, above, a phone of such magnificence it actually caused us to gasp when it arrived at Stuff HQ. Heck, even BlackBerry’s back on top of its game with the Z10.

But all these brands are late to a party that Samsung gatecrashed with the enormously successful Galaxy S2 back in 2011. It followed that by hijacking the DJ booth at said party and turning Gangnam Style up to 11 with the Galaxy S3. Despite the aging Galaxy S3 being usurped in the rankings by the newcomers, Samsung knows how it feels to be in the lead and it intends to reclaim that position – and the large cash prize that comes with it – when it launches the Galaxy S4 in a few hours.

As Lance Armstrong will attest, staying at the top doesn’t mean you have to play fair. We’ve had our say on what Samsung needs to build to keep step with the competition (“Go metal or go home,” was Esat’s clarion call), yet the leaks leading up to Samsung’s big S4 unveil suggest his words have not been heeded.

So Samsung, what have you got? Either the leaks we’ve seen are misleading, or your new phone is going to struggle to keep pace with a new generation of solidly built smartphonery. With all the tech in the world, it’s going to be hard to overlook an inferior quality shell.

Here’s the clue: Samsung hasn’t been shy about its promotional activity. From the risible teaser video of Richie Rich-alike Jeremy getting his first look at the new hardware to pictures of its Times Square advertising hoardings (amusingly trolled by LG), it’s fairly obvious Samsung means to play an age-old ace from up its sleeve – it’s going to throw money at the problem.

We don’t pander to advertising, which is why we haven’t published this picture of Samsung’s oh-so-subtle Hong Kong harbour campaign before. And believe us, the above snap is one of many we’ve been sent by Samsung’s efficient PR machine. They even sent us a big bag of chocs and snacks earlier. Very thoughtful.

What’s clear is that Samsung has bags of cash, and should the reception to its new phone be anything other than glowing, it can pay its marketeers to paper over the cracks and shift bajillions of units.

Of course, it may not need to. In spite of the plastic build we’re now expecting, we also fully anticipate the Samsung Galaxy S4 arriving with an arsenal of technology so mind boggling it’ll make us weep with desire. But whether it can reclaim its leafy spot at the top of the smartphone tree will depend entirely on those tricks, its design, its price and its performance. Not the amount of money Samsung spends advertising its new baby.

By Paddy Smith

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