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South Korean conglomerate Samsung is dead set on ditching its perception as nothing more than a commoditized hardware vendor. To that end, the company has been aggressively focusing on software and services, even though that inevitably entails undermining Google's own.
When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S4 in March, there was literally no direct mention of Google or Android during the presentation, although their presence was understood. Many of Samsung's new features are exact duplicates of some built into Android.
Shortly after the event, much of the tech press derided some of these new features as little more than novelties with little to no real-world use cases. For example, AllThingsD's influential Walt Mossberg called Sammy's software "gimmicky" and "duplicative."
Well, Samsung has released a new ad again targeting Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) directly, showcasing some of these new features while demonstrating two indisputable instances where the Galaxy S4 will always triumph over the iPhone 5.
For prospective smartphone buyers that frequently eat barbecued ribs, absolutely must answer their phones while eating, and loathe the use of moist towelettes, the Galaxy S4 and Air Gesture is for you. Samsung's new flagship may also be a perfect match for anyone in the midst of applying sunscreen that just received a text that can't be ignored for 5 seconds. Air View is the only way to preview a text message immediately without risking sunburn.
You got me there
In these specific use cases, Apple simply can't compete. Short of calling up Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA ) and incorporating the company's ClearPad technology and its 3D-Touch capabilities, the iPhone will never know when you're about to touch it. Apple used to tap Synaptics for iPod click-wheel sensors, but that was a long time ago. The Samsung design win has given Synaptics a nice pop, since the GS4 is bound to bring in abundant unit volumes.
I was in a local carrier retail store the other day to scope out current offerings and played with a Galaxy S4. Air View is a tough sell for everyday use. The ability to preview things by hovering your finger sounds innovative on paper, but in practice it takes conscious effort to not touch the screen. I was stationary, but it would likely be unusable in a moving vehicle or while walking, among numerous other everyday scenarios. It's far from intuitive, but it works as intended.
Samsung also demonstrates some other features that the iPhone doesn't have, such as the ability to share photos by touching phones using NFC. This advantage is partially neutered by the fact that there are countless other methods of photo sharing, including but not limited to good ol' fashioned email.
Samsung is back to its Apple-bashing ways, but fortunately Apple is getting back on its marketing game.
There's a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.