Ina Fried

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Samsung Finds New Ways to Turn Hardware Prominence Into Smartphone Dominance

Although Samsung still admittedly has work to do when it comes to phone software, the Korean electronics giant seems to have hardware all figured out.

Samsung GS4 Active -feature

Samsung’s first move was to cover almost every imaginable screen size with a phone, tablet or phablet. If the smartphone business is a game of chess, Samsung has essentially put a piece on every space on the board.

With that effort complete, the company is moving into a new phase. Now, it is working to offer products that target specific niches of the market.

The latest announcement along those lines was Wednesday’s introduction of the Galaxy S4 Active — a heartier version of its new flagship smartphone. The dustproof and waterproof version of the S4 is due to arrive this summer, initially in the U.S. and Sweden.

Though not a truly ruggedized device, it offers those who want a little more protection the option to get it without having to sacrifice features or put up with much added bulk.

But Samsung’s efforts along these lines go further, including a rumored camera-centric Galaxy S4 Zoom. The company has promised to show off new products in the Galaxy line at a June 20 event in London.

On the tablet side, Samsung now has both its standard and pen-based Note models in a variety of sizes. Samsung is also trying to take Android to new types of devices, such as the Galaxy Camera.

The efforts appear to be working. On the phone side, Samsung captured 30.8 percent of the global market in the first quarter, according to Gartner, up from 27.6 percent a year earlier.

Software is certainly increasingly important but, long term, it is unlikely that good hardware alone will keep Samsung in the dominant position. That explains all the money the company is pouring into various software projects, incubators and its Knox security program to make its devices ready for big business.

But for the short term, Samsung’s carpet bombing of the market has put enormous pressure on rivals, particularly companies such as HTC and Sony.

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