With the launch of the Fascinate on Verizon this week, Samsung will have an Android-based Galaxy S smartphone available from each of the four major wireless carriers in the United States. The strategy goes against the grain of the industry-standard model of exclusive device relationships with a single wireless provider, and demonstrates why other smartphone manufacturers should follow suit.
Samsung already has Galaxy S smartphones available with the other three wireless providers, and the Verizon Fascinate will complete the wireless carrier grand slam and allow Samsung to capitalize on the broadest possible distribution to maximize sales of its Android smartphone platform. Samsung sold more than a million Galaxy S devices before the smartphone was even available from Sprint, or Verizon--the largest of the four wireless providers.
While each of the Samsung Galaxy S devices is essentially the same at the core, there are subtle differences between the T-Mobile Vibrant, the AT&T Captivate, the Sprint Epic 4G, and the Verizon Fascinate. In that regard, the devices are unique and are still "exclusive" to their respective wireless carrier.
Other smartphone manufacturers should take a hint. Analysts have long predicted that Apple could double sales of the iPhone overnight by simply ending its exclusivity arrangement with AT&T and offering the popular device through other wireless carriers as well. A recent survey supports that theory--illustrating just how many wireless users would defect to Verizon if it were to start offering the iPhone, and even how many current Verizon Android users would switch platforms if the iPhone was an option.
Verizon has had tremendous success with smartphones sporting the Droid brand. The Motorola Droid, Droid X, and Droid 2, as well as the HTC Droid Eris, and Incredible have all helped Android skyrocket in market share and chip away at the dominance of the iPhone. Both Motorola and HTC also offer Android smartphones with other providers--like the Motorola Backflip with AT&T, and the HTC EVO 4G with Sprint--but they are entirely unique handsets meaning they each require a separate investment in research and development, engineering, and testing that ultimately cut into the bottom line profits for each manufacturer.
The phenomenal sales of the Galaxy S series of smartphones should give other manufacturers reason to explore a similar strategy with future handsets. If the iPhone can dominate the smartphone market with just AT&T, imagine what it could do if it were available from the other three wireless providers as well. If the Motorola Droid 2 is successful with Verizon, why not also offer the same--or very similar--smartphone through T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T?
Rumors suggest that Samsung may pursue a similar strategy with its Galaxy Tab Android tablet as well, although I don't have the same appreciation for distributing tablets through wireless carrier subsidies.