Android-based Galaxy S may be taking advantage of an Apple backlash

U.S. shipments of Samsung's Galaxy S Android phone reach 1 million mark in first 45 days

Shipments of Samsung Mobile's Galaxy S Android smartphone reached 1 million units in the U.S. 45 days after it first became available, the company announced Monday.

While Apple sold about 1.7 million iPhone 4 smartphones during its first weekend, some analysts see the Galaxy S's initial shipment totals as the beginnings of Android supremacy.

"No question there is an anti-Apple, pro-Android movement afoot," said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates. "It's not just about price. It's also about having an open alternative with much less dictatorial control of what the user can do with the device."

Gold said he expects that sales of Android devices from all manufacturers will surpass Apple iPhone sales by 2011. Gartner analysts have said the same thing.

A Samsung spokeswoman today said that today's announcement referred to "shipments for Galaxy S, not sales." Presumably that means shipments to all retail outlets (including Amazon.com) and the four major U.S. carriers that will sell the Galaxy S,

Most bloggers ignored the distinction Samsung noted between shipments and sales because shipments of popular phones to a carrier or retailer usually result in quick final sales to end users.

The Galaxy X models from each of the carriers include a 4-inch AMOLED display and a 1-GHz Hummingbird processor -- both of which are clear draws for customers.

Two of those carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile, are already selling the devices, which they call Captivate and Vibrant, respectively. Sprint will start selling a Galaxy S it calls Epic tomorrow, and it has been rumored that Verizon's Fascinate model will become available on Sept. 9.

Samsung's Web site shows images of the four Galaxy S phones side by side. Pictured with its three brethren, the Epic 4G is the most notably different; it features a slide-out physical keyboard in landscape mode and has a front-facing camera. The Epic 4G might have gone on sale earlier, but Sprint decided to stockpile units to meet demand amid a global shortage of display screens.

All four Galaxy S phone models will initially run the Android 2.1 operating system and then move to Version 2.2, or Froyo, later this year.

Gold said sales of Android devices like the Galaxy S smartphones have been bolstered by an increase in the number of apps available for them. He noted that developers are finding that it's easier to get applications approved for sale in the Android Market than it is to get Apple's OK for sales in the App Store.

Another reason for the move toward Android is that hackers and other developers see the Android platform as one that can be used for experimentation, Gold said, although Google and device manufacturers are trying to stop that practice.

Various bloggers have cited other reasons for Android's success, including pricing.

Fortune's Seth Weintraub noted that users who sign up for a two-year agreement with AT&T can get a Captivate device for a penny.

Amazon advertises many phones and devices at almost no charge or at prices that are half the what carriers are advertising -- a practice Apple has resisted, analysts noted. The purpose of the low upfront pricing is obviously to lure buyers into two-year contracts.

What may intrigue some buyers of Android more than anything is that the Captivate is sold by AT&T, which is also the exclusive carrier of the iPhone.

Samsung attributed the success of Galaxy S to the fact that it is sold by multiple carriers, and to a broad marketing campaign featuring print, online, cinema and TV ads, as well as promotions on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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