I'm in midst of a 10-day stay in Seoul, Korea - part of a 3-week trip that will include China. Obviously, the SIII announcement is getting a lot of press but I don't see that the people are all that excited. There seems to be an upgrade fatigue building. I mean, how long ago was it that Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note? Or the last Galaxy II? What about the Nexus? Who can stay on top of all this stuff?
I've been moving about a lot in Seoul over the past several days and have made the effort to observe the mobile devices in use in the subway trains, coffee houses, bars & restaurants, on crowded streets, etc. There's no doubt Samsung dominates in the sheer number of devices used but, at the same time, the only other noticeable brand here in Seoul besides Samsung is definitely Apple.
From my general observations, it seems Samsung devices are at around 80% but that also includes the dumb feature phones used by the older folks who don't want to mess with touch screens. Also, the Samsung-Apple mix changes depending on the neighborhood around Seoul. Basically, the swankier the neighborhood the more iPhones you see. If the neighborhood (and that includes certain subway lines) isn't high income, you don't see as many iPhones.
Demographically speaking, iPhones are certainly more popular amongst the younger crowd (20's to early-30's) and especially the women. I'd say at least 60% of the iPhones I've seen were being used by women and they tended to be on the more attractive side than the women using Samsung phones. Subjective statement, I know, but that's how I saw it. From what I've been able to gather, the iPhone is definitely for the younger and hipper crowd.
As far as tablets, a tablet the size of the iPad isn't that common in subway cars. But when I did see a 10"-size tablet, around 70% was the iPad. I saw a decent number of Samsung's 7~8" tablets but even that was less than half of the iPads I saw in use. So this pretty much confirms how dominant the iPad is even in Samsung's home turf. The Android tablet definitely is having a hard time getting any traction anywhere.
What was interesting is that most people using Samsung smartphones don't seem to have any problems using 4.3"-and-up screens. Even women typically had those large screen phones and it didn't seem to bother them at all. I also saw a decent number of men using those funny looking 5" Galaxy Notes. I'd say around 1 out of every 10 Samsung smartphones in use were that variety. It really does look goofy when you see them use it as a phone held against their faces but I guess they don't care.
Anyway, that's what I'm seeing here in Seoul and it is one technological marvel of a city. This country is completely wired with the fastest Internet speeds and it seems that 4G LTE covers every nook and cranny of the nation as well. There are large display screens virtually everywhere you turn - bus stops, subway stations, elevators inside an apartment building, stores, restaurants, etc. with schedules, news feeds, menus, etc. Pretty amazing... I've traveled to a lot of places around the world and even Japan looks like it's at least a decade behind South Korea from this perspective.
But it seems that high-tech is so pervasive here that people now take it for granted. It isn't all that exciting to people. It's just a tool or a utility like electricity or water. Again, this is where Samsung doesn't match up with Apple. Samsung just isn't sexy when they also make microwave ovens, washers/dryers, dumb TVs, etc. as well as selling life insurance, building apartment complexes and treating patients at their own-branded hospitals. Sorry to say, Samsung is just an outright boring company...