BARCELONA, Spain – Sony unveiled a waterproof phone that can take ultra-high-definition video. Nokia introduced three Android smartphones aimed at emerging markets. And Lenovo announced one with an all-glass exterior.
Yet the spotlight Monday was on Samsung, which announced a successor to its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone. The Galaxy S5 will feature a heart-rate monitor, a fingerprint sensor for security and a sharper camera with faster autofocus.
Samsung’s glitzy announcement during the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, made it harder for other phone makers to get noticed. Samsung had several times the attendance of either Sony’s or Nokia’s event Monday.
It’s increasingly difficult to get attention for your mobile device in a very crowded marketplace, said Dan Hays, U.S. wireless advisory leader at the consulting firm PwC.
It’s even more difficult when one of the competing devices comes from Samsung Electronics Co., which introduced the phone a day after it unveiled two new computerized wristwatches, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. Samsung also announced a fitness band on Monday.
Roger Entner, an analyst with the Recon Analytics research firm in Boston, said the S4 and its predecessor, the Galaxy S III, were both blockbuster phones and have helped Samsung surpass iPhone maker Apple Inc. as the world’s largest smartphone maker. According to Gartner, Samsung had a 31 percent market share last year, compared with 16 percent for Apple. No other company had more than 5 percent.
Samsung spent nearly $4.3 billion in advertising in the 12 months through September, about four times the $1.1 billion Apple spent in the same period, the latest for which figures were available. Although Samsung also makes TVs, refrigerators and other products, analysts believe much of the marketing is for newer products such as phones.
The only other company that comes close to matching Samsung’s muscle is Apple.
The iPhone’s debut in 2007 showed the world that phones can do much more than calls and messages. Since then, each new iPhone release has taken on an aura of a rock concert.