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I'm picky about my cell phone. The Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone ain't good enough for me. The BlackBerry series from Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) doesn't make sense to a freelancer like myself. The phone I want doesn't even exist here in the U.S. yet.
What's the big deal?
I'm talking about the Samsung i7500, a.k.a. "Galaxy," smartphone. When the gadget lands on our shores, I don't really care which of the Big Four mobile phone service carriers gets it first. If my current service provider, Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE: DT ) T-Mobile, snags it first, I'll stay with them. But if Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) steps up first, that's where I'm going.
I'm excited about the Galaxy for a number of reasons:
- The OLED screen, likely powered by technology from longtime Rule Breaker Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL ) , is gentle on battery drain yet draws rave reviews for its brilliant picture quality.
- The 5-megapixel camera comes with a high-efficiency LED flash and computerized autofocus. Coupled with 8 gigabytes of storage space in the phone, the Galaxy beats the pants off my Sony (NYSE: SNE ) digital camera. The Galaxy could store every picture I've taken with the Sony over the past six years -- without adding memory cards.
- And of course, this phone runs the Android operating system with direct hooks into a plethora of services from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) . It's not the first Android phone on the market, but it's the first time I've seen this exciting platform married to a high-powered hardware package.
- Oh, and there's no need to hide in shame from your iPhone-toting friends, because this bad boy even comes with Hollywood good looks.
The Galaxy is one of the first truly impressive Android phones, alongside the HTC Magic. Hands-on reviews place these Android handsets in the same rarefied air as the iPhone, which was not the case with early models like the T-Mobile G1. When these phones wash up on American shores in the next few months, I expect them to sell like ice cream on Miami's South Beach.
Google has another winner on its hands here. Android phones like these could become the gold standard of mobile connectivity -- or simply push incumbents like Apple and Research In Motion to do better. Either way, Google wins thanks to its dominating stature in monetization of online traffic.
The phone also presents an opportunity that Samsung desperately needs. While the company quietly controls a hefty 19% of worldwide mobile phone market share, its smartphone market share is below 3%. As Apple and Research In Motion have shown the world, the real way to score outsized profits in the mobile industry is to create a differentiated smartphone that can attract sizeable profit margins. Luckily, the Android presents an opportunity to marry impressive hardware with the compelling software that Samsung has lacked in the past; it's the company's most compelling product to date and should be a good test of whether Android will catch on with consumers.
However, that's just my 2 cents on the phone. Will anyone else be following in my footsteps and buying the new i7500? Is the phone a legitimate threat to Apple and Research In Motion's stranglehold on the U.S. smartphone market? Let me know in the comments section below.