May 4 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest mobile-phone maker last quarter, unveiled a new handset in the Galaxy S series, intensifying a battle with Apple Inc. for leadership in the smartphone market.
The Galaxy S III, running Google Inc.’s latest Android operating system, features increased voice-command options to compete with the Siri voice software on the latest Apple iPhone. Other functions include an eye sensor system that prevents the screen from dimming, Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung said at an event in London yesterday.
The Galaxy devices helped Samsung overtake Nokia Oyj as the worlds’ top handset seller for the first time in the first quarter and regain the lead in the $219 billion smartphone market from Apple, also the electronics maker’s biggest chip and display customer. Cupertino, California-based Apple’s newest iPhone was unveiled seven months ago.
“In terms of hardware specifications, the new model meets expectations,” Kim Hyung Sik, a Seoul-based analyst at Taurus Investment Securities Co., said by phone.
Samsung shares, which rose 9 percent in April, fell 2.9 percent to 1,360,000 at the close of trading in Seoul, compared with a 0.3 percent decline in the benchmark Kospi index.
“The stock had been moving on all the upbeat news related to smartphones and their Galaxy phones lately, and now it’s in a transitional period looking for new momentum,” Kim said.
The Galaxy S III is a successor to the Galaxy S II, whose global sales reached 20 million in February, about 10 months after its debut and about seven months faster than its predecessor.
“Your lead technology is always important and this will be the flagship device,” Stephen Taylor, who runs corporate branding for Samsung in Europe, said in an interview. “It’s not just about hardware moving forward, it’s about the software products that interact with customers.”
The handset will be priced at a premium to its predecessor, Taylor said. “The U.K. is pivotal and Europe will get the device first.”
The handset will be available in the U.K. at the end of May. The S III will be available in markets including the U.S. and South Korea by the end of the summer, as well as on all three carriers in China, he said.
Samsung sold 93.5 million handsets in the first quarter, 36 percent more than a year earlier, Strategy Analytics said April 27. Nokia shipped 82.7 million, down 24 percent, and Apple sold 35.1 million units, an 89 percent increase from last year.
Samsung sold 44.5 million smartphones in the three months ended in March, according to the researcher’s data.
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