Mobile Mavens

Mobile Gaming Mavens: Samsung Galaxy S4? What Samsung Galaxy S4?

The industry talks Android's next big thing

Mobile Gaming Mavens: Samsung Galaxy S4? What Samsung Galaxy S4?

The Mobile Mavens is our panel of experts drawn from all sectors of the mobile gaming industry.

This week saw Samsung lift the lid on the Galaxy S4. For many, Samsung's flagship range increasingly stands as the only real competition to Apple's iPhone, despite increasing competition from HTC, Sony, Nokia and BlackBerry.

Before the unveiling itself, we asked the Mavens:

From your perspective, what would you like to see Samsung serve up? Is there anything it can do to advance the Android platform on its own, and is a tussle between just two handsets at the top good for the industry?

Jani Kahrama Founder Secret Exit

I'd be happy to see Galaxy S4 with only a single CPU/GPU/memory configuration for all markets.

The Galaxy S III s a sad example of a manufacturer fragmenting even a single handset to the point that compatibility of apps is not guaranteed between the different variants.

Dave Castelnuovo Owner Bolt Creative

I had no idea that Samsung was even doing an announcement.

Jared Steffes Co-founder Muxy

Me neither. Samsung did have a huge presence at SXSW (South By Southwest) Interactive.

There was a big line to get into the building the firm rented, painted, and themed in its classic black and blue. I never made it in.

The single architecture sure sounds nice.

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Games Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

As a very happy iPhone user, I don't have much of an opinion on what the S4 will offer, as I already know I won't be buying one.

Comments we've had already - consistency on hardware specs and Android version - make obvious sense as fragmentation is such a pain for developers. But when did upset developers ever stop a handset launch?

To answer the broader question, it's not great that we seem to find the smartphone business being a two horse race between Apple and Samsung. But who do the other manufacturers have to blame for their failure to compete, other than themselves?

Poor designs, issues with distribution and carrier deals, a lack of apps, poor quality - in the current market, you absolutely can't put out a sub-par handset if you want to compete at the very top.

Having said that, as much as we see stories every day about the dominance of the big two, smartphone sales are continuing to grow, and the other players are still selling millions of devices - so it's not as if everyone else is on the verge of bankruptcy. Perhaps we'll see a few others targeting specific user niches, as Blackberry does.

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

I tend to agree that Samsung is the only OEM that has really taken on Apple head on – and, of course, the patent issues that cloud us at the moment act as testimony for me that Samsung has Apple's attention.

But, given that Samsung is utilising someone elses platform - in this case Android - this limits the range of areas where it can differentiate from the perspective of end users.

Physically, I expect the usual iterative improvements in screens, cameras, processor, memory, etc.

Processor - particularly low-power GPU performance could be a great area. Not just for higher end, console quality, gaming but also for battery life which for me is still a key problem - I can't get a full day of typical use (including game play out of my Galaxy S III).

From a back end point of view, Jani is right to want a consistent single architecture - I doubt that will happen - but I find it hard to believe that Samsung couldn't get big economies of scale by doing this across multiple devices.

We must be getting to the point where the mobile device architecture under the plastic remains the same, but the form-factor and accessories determines the device's mode of use. However, I suspect a lot of the benefits we might want as developers would need to happen in Android, rather than on just one OEM device.

Perhaps its in accessories that they could make a big change, like including a game controller (with OS-level integration) in the box. or a dongle that make its AllShare software work in any TV with a USB slot out of the box? But I doubt it.

Going down the 3D camera route might be nice, but 3D has lost its sheen - even though I personally love it.

Where does that leave me? Well not expecting huge new ground breaking shifts - I hope I'm wrong.

You can find out what Samsung actually unveiled here.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.