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The Next Big Threat to Apple Inc. (AAPL) Arrives in Less Than a Month

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There is a growing perception that Samsung has successfully copied its way into become a meaningful threat to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the smartphone market, in part due to the popularity of the company’s Galaxy S series of devices. The South Korean conglomerate recently announced that it has crossed the threshold of 100 million units in channel shipments over the three generations.

That figure still pales in comparison to the number of iPhones that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) sells, but when you include all of the other smartphone models that Samsung sells, including phablets like the Galaxy Note and lower-end devices in unsubsidized emerging markets, then Samsung comes out on top with a healthy lead. Samsung’s official marketing tag line for its Galaxy brand is “The Next Big Thing.” Is the next big threat to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) imminent?

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)“The Next Big Thing” keeps getting bigger
According to a report from Samsung rumor site SamMobile separately confirmed by The Verge, Sammy is preparing to launch the Galaxy S IV on March 14 — less than a month away. That will be after Mobile World Congress ends, which is where some had thought the device would be unveiled.

The Galaxy S IV is expected to continue pushing the envelope with sheer size, featuring a 5-inch AMOLED display.

Model Display Size
Galaxy S 4-inch
Galaxy S II 4.3-inch
Galaxy S III 4.8-inch
Galaxy S IV 5-inch*

Sources: Samsung and SamMobile. *Rumored.

Other rumored specs include an 8-core Exynos 5 Octa processor and 13-megapixel image sensor. Naturally, the new flagship will run on the latest version of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, in this case 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.

Core talk
The Exynos 5 Octa chip inside is notable because it will be among the first to market featuring ARM Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:ARMH) Cortex A15 cores. Samsung’s $249 Chromebook that launched last October was its first device using an Exynos 5 processor, but the Galaxy S IV will be Samsung’s first smartphone carrying a processor of this caliber. This chip is based on ARM’s big.LITTLE technology and combines the performance of Cortex A15 cores with the energy efficiency of Cortex A7 cores. In the Exynos 5 Octa, there are four of each of these two types of cores.

In order to compete on this front, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is rumored to be rebuilding iOS in order to better support additional processing cores and future versions of the operating system could handle up to 8 cores also. Apple now uses custom “Swift” cores in that are on par in performance with Cortex A15 cores.

Top two
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung represent the two extremes of product strategy, and both are successfully executing their respective philosophies. Apple has always favored product depth over breadth, and has thus far only released one iPhone model per year. In contrast, Samsung is the exact opposite and chooses to focus heavily on breadth over depth, offering a wide range of devices with nearly every imaginable combination of display size, price point, and overall quality.

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