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In 2012, it was hard to compete with Samsung's $12 Billion electronics marketing budget. Even Apple has felt the pinch from Samsung's marketing department. They figured out that building the products that people like wasn't enough -- you had to make sure they knew about their existence. And they did a hell of an advertising job on "old" media like magazines and newspaper, TV, and the Internet. It paid off pretty well, as they are the undisputed top dog in Android, and sell the most smartphones world-wide. The only issue with their plan is that other OEMs can copy it.

That brings us to 2013, where we've yet to see the real advertising push for the next round of Android devices. You can bet every manufacturer is studying what Samsung has done in 2012, and tweaking those plans to better suit the needs of their own massive ad assault. Some will be successful, some won't, but they all have to try. They have the devices down -- every company builds great Android phones, now they just need to figure out how to sell them.

The one sure bet is that things will be interesting. One small flounder by Samsung is all it would take, and fickle users will switch loyalties to the next company in short order. Or maybe LG will decide to open their coffers and spend a few more Billion on marketing. Or maybe HTC can reorganize and wow us at the cash register. Stranger things have happened, and a turnover at the top is best for the consumer -- it keeps everyone making our phones and tablets fighting for our business. 

Here's your chance to play smart phone analyst. Spend a few minutes thinking of the different scenarios that could happen, decide which is the most likely, and vote in the poll. You'll find it over to the right in the sidebar, and we've embedded it after the break to make it easy. I've marked my calendar, and we'll revisit this in December to see how we all did.


Reader comments

This week's sidebar poll: Who will be Android's top OEM in 2013?


You love your job?

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We haven't even seen a hint of a slide from Samsung yet. I think they are still gaining momentum. I can't tell you how many times I've heard Apple users last year refer to android phones as a "Samsung phone" the brand recognition is really sprouting and I don't think it will be showing down this year.

Yeah same here, they just have such great ideas. If they could implement samsungs bendable Gorilla Glass 3 display with their waterproof technology and a huge battery. And market that well, it will be a huge hit.

(OPINION)For some reason, Samsung just bothers me. I mean I have had the S3 and I just really hate TW. Period. I am really pulling for the other OEMs to step up their game in 2013 and I think they have a chance of catching up.

Actually TW 5 on GS3/Note2 is my favorite skin next to stock android. It's very smooth, intuitive and functional. Moto's new Blur on Razr M/HD is looking almost like stock but it has ton of bloats and way more laggy than new TW on samsung.

Did you try it with Jelly Bean or back when it was ICS? That would make a huge difference (theoretically at least).

It's a matter of opinion. I personally feel that TouchWiz is too colorful and ugly, so I prefer more stock (which is NOT laggy). Other people prefer TW with its various enhancements and whatnot.

Couldn't agree more, I have used HTC, Motorola, Nexus, and Samsung. Sense feels like a resource hog and Motorola is fast and looked okay but it was buggy and the atrix 2 boot loader has not been hacked. Stock android will always be my favorite but Touch wiz is really fast and functional and even better with Nova Launcher.

Ugh,next time I see someone talking about hating TW, I will shoot a B!there is NOVA launcher forthat! it gives youThe pure Google look n feel without having to sacrifice all the good things about TW, that we would do if went to a full aosp ROM, or debloated. I use all the Samsung apps, especially for my tv! Just switched back to stock ROM, n I have better battery and speeds in my Note 2. Still rooted and running Nova Launcher. Can't stand the TW look, but I don't care,I have Nova launcher! Or u can use Apex too!

Totally agree, I have no issues with the current version of Touchwiz. Having had a Evo 4G and briefly a Evo 4G LTE, I think TW is much better that Sense.

Usually the people knocking TW, Sense and all the other skins are the Nexus purists.

It doesn't matter how much noise the others manufactures make, the gap between them and Samsung is just way too big for someone to dethrone Samsung in 2013....

Samsung has big momentum and money now. I doubt any other Android maker can dethrone them this year. Probably the better question is who will be able to dethrone them in what year.

I'll go post my vote in a second.

I'm fairly certain Samsung will continue to dominate most of 2013, possibly even early 2014. However sooner or later someone will come along and outgun Sammy at their own game (at least in the smartphone market).

Who would I like to see do that? HTC (I like their physical design and hardware). Does it really matter? Not to me. Truth is, competition is good for us consumers. The closer the race between the manufacturers, the harder everyone tries to make awesome phones.

+1. More competition is great for consumers. That's why ISP's suck: they don't have much competition within their regional monopolies.

I still think the Achilles heal of Samsung is Kies. This software is crap! Sony have a much better suite in their PC Connect product and I can't recall having the problems with my old HTC Legend that my wife has with syncing her Galaxy Note.

Anything that REQUIRES you to use only an MS-Windows or MacOS machine just to load an update is crap. Either support all three major desktop OS's or do what should be done- all over the air, all the time.

Who will sell the most devices? Samsung, no doubt. Who will make the best phone? Either HTC, Motorola, or Sony, if the trends continue.

The biggest? Samsung
The biggest growth? Sony

Things don't shift overnight especially and Samsung will not fall from the top spot in 2013 (if ever) but I imagine Sony will see the biggest growth in presence in the United States and the odds of being wrong is determined by the carriers they go with with the Xperia Z

I think the manufacturer that gets their flagship(s) on all the major carriers (or at least 3 out of the big 4) will take the prize. Really like the huge battery on the Razr Maxx or the compact form factor of the Razr M, but not willing to pay 2x/3x each month for Verizon. So, unfortunately, my vote will go to Samsung... though personally.. I was really impressed w/ what I've seen from Sony and HTC lately.. and would probably pick one of their phones if I had to choose in the next month or so.

Samsung just has too many devices out there and more coming out all the time. From entry level to top of the line. And thats just phones. Then you have to count all the different tablets they make as well.

Cue Richard Yarrell saying how "boss" or "pimp slapping" Samsung will be for the rest of 2013 and 2014 and 2015 and....

I'd love to see HTC hit a home run, but buying the M7 before the launch of the Galaxy S4 is just suicide. I'd wait to see what Samsung offers before buying any other phone.

Unless OEM's start supporting development the way Samsung does (meaning at the very least stop trying to cripple it, also exception being Verison variants) I do not see "enthusiasts" buying from anyone else. As far as general public goes, Samsung wins out on having a UI that doesn't make the phone feel sluggish. I would like to Root for HTC here but honestly the only vote I could seem them receiving from me is "OEMs who might not be around in 5 years"

Well considering that HTC is continuing their downward spiral as they've lost touch with what customers actually want, i'm going to say Samsung again. Motorola could have a chance as well if they release a solid device with Google's marketing to back it up.

Like someone else said, the best sales figures will come from Samsung. (No brainer.) The best phone will come from one of the others but will not out sell the Gs4.

Going from past experience using the Nexus line, Nexus One by HTC, they were the biggest manufacturer, then Samsung with the next two Nexii, thus LG will be the biggest this year because of the Nexus 4, or I could be completely crazy and history may not be an indicator.

I love android and i wish all OEMs do great this year... i love samsung openness of hacking and microsd slots, HTC has the best design, motorola batteries, sony camera and the price of LG...:-)

Samsung is the only vendor on the list that has near complete control of their platform. From screens, to flash memory, to being a source of components for several of their competitors, Samsung is almost untouchable (for better or worse). Using Android for the software frees up resources to do their own software 'ad-ons' let's call them. I don't see how the others on this list can compete with Samsung on this scale. But I could be wrong.

I voted Samsung, but I am hoping someone else like HTC will push through with some solid competition. I don't want it to be so easy for Samsung to remain king. I love me note 2 but would love even more to try a new OEM next.

HTC put out some GREAT phones in 2012. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to notice. I know 2 people who have either the One X or the EVO 4G LTE. I know about 20 who have the Galaxy S III. Anecdoatal, I know. But sales figures obviously support this. Not sure why they got so much mind share, but I've even seen a die-hard iPhone user switch over to the S III. And she was someone I never thought would. But, she loves the bigger screen... Go fig!

I would love to see Sony or Motorola have a shot... But there is no denying Samsung's brand leadership. The nexus 10 is the only tablet they've made that I like though... I hope their next tablet is cutting edge from every aspect... Including the lack of touch wiz skin.

Samsung will continue to dominate. I previously owned the iPhone 4S & iPad, and traded in both for the Note 2 & Note 10.1. In 2013, I am planning to buy the Note 3 and the Note 8.0 when they become available. My girlfriend still has her iPhone 4S, but will be trading it in for a Note 2 soon.

why even place htc on that list???
but for now... sony has some nice phones out right now so picked them... but not sure what Motorola has in mind...

By sheer numbers Samsung will continue to be number one. But if anyone can compete with them it could be Sony.No other company has so many hardware and multimedia tools at their disposal to produce a Flagship Android device.

Samsung definitely takes 2013. Although, I think their continued
dominance hinges on how well we
receive their new OS(Tizen). Motorola might spark a little bit
with the X...we'll see.

I'd love to see Google do something with Moto. Hopefully the X phone is real.. Sounds like it could be incredible if it is. I love how Samsung is still doing removable batteries.

As much as i would love to see Sony and HTC rise to rival Samsung, I doubt it'll happen, Samsung has a huge presence.

I hope that HTC start adding high capacity REMOVABLE batteries to their flagship devices and work their way to the top

I honestly don't get the whole removal battery issue. There is no way you swap out batteries on a daily basis...and on those rare days that you actually do need more juice, just get a Mophie external battery that out lasts any internal battery. I use one on international flights to keep my phone and Nexus 7 running.

What an easy question, obviously it will be the manufacturer with the biggest advertisement budget, such as the one with recent SuperBowl commercial that I didn't watch and not intended to buy their flimsy easy to break devices. Though I have to admit they do give lots of choices in their device.

I am interested in Sony offerings, though naturally I only seriously consider Nexus devices.

My ex-Galaxy Nexus reaffirmed for me that I never liked Samsung and my new One X+ reignited my love for HTC, so I'm rooting for HTC and Sony as secondary. If Motorola does come out with the X-Phone, it won't be until later this year...and it'll be too late for them to make a dint in 2013; 2014 is more like it.

Samsung is Godzilla...A Monster!! I believe with Samsung's current position in the market, it will take at least two years before anyone besides Apple is in a position to challenge their dominance.

It boils down to the marketing dollars. Opposing Manufacturers' devices are comparable with those released by Samsung, however, who else has the marketing budget to compete?

I love Samsung's devices and think that their designs are better than most of the manufacturers out today. I support them because they are the only company with the muscle to go head to head with Apple's hype machine. Viva La Samsung!!

the GS3 and the Note2 are still selling like crazy, and when the GS4 come out, it will blow everything else out of the water in terms of sales.

While I have a Samsung phone, I am an Android Fanboy, not a Sammy Fanboy. That being said, it would be very difficult to dethrone Samsung from the top of the hill.

Samsung without a doubt, they will continued to raise the bar as they don't like to cut corners, but if HTC want to be a mayor player they need to abandon the locked boot-loader s***t and the apple like business, that only work for apple as they already have to many isheep.

this is one of those times where you know something almost for sure, but you wish for something else. i know Samsung will have a good year, so i voted for them, but i prefer HTC to Samsung.

I think Samsung will remain on top. HTC just doesn't seem to get it and even tho Motorola seems to be making decent phones most of thier advertising is just for DROIDS and that's it. The DROID brand is actually confusing because ppl think Android and DROID are the same thing, but I guess that's stupid ass Verizon's fault. Everyone else just needs to step up.

IMO, Samsung dared to do what no other OEM was willing to do at the time, and that was go toe to toe with Apple.

It was risky, expensive, but in the end it proved to be a brilliant marketing strategy. By taking on Apple directly the media could not help itself, and was forced to put Samsung in the headlines, and thus in the mind of all consumers.

Samsung used the "underdog" sentiment to win the hearts and minds of a lot of consumers, and then backed by a massive (12 billion is insane) marketing budget they blanketed every segment of the market with their products.

Their second most brilliant move was somehow convincing every major carrier to sell the Gs3, followed by the Note 2, untouched in design. This meant that if I wanted a Gs3 or Note 2 I didn't have to switch carriers to get it. In fact, they even made the Gs3 available on pre-paid carriers like MetroPCS. No other Android OEM has taken that approach, and thus no other Android OEM can touch Samsung. By having one design spread out across the world this also means my options for accessories is unlimited.

Even though I own a Sprint Note 2, I can walk into any At&t, Verizon, or T-Mobile store and buy a case or any other accessory and know it will fit. I can go on Ebay or Amazon and find a slew of accessories for either device. So until the other OEM's are able to leverage themselves like Samsung I don't see any hope of them moving beyond the #2 spot.

I voted Motorola mainly because I think they have an extremely solid marketing base with the droid line. It could easily be expanded up on, and already recognizable by a large consumer base (my mom recognizes the brand, which amazes me). What I am really looking forward to is the continuation of the competition, nothing pushes innovation like multi-billion dollar companies looking for the one up!

The fact is several of the OEMs have lost their way. They've forgotten the users and done their own thing. They've locked down their phones to prevent custom roms and gone to non user-replaceable batteries. Yes, Apple does this too but a new iPhone battery is as close as the Apple Store at your local shopping mall and Apple buyers are more sheep than goat. Good luck getting that accelerated obsolescence for an optional $500+ item to catch on.

Why do people love Sony phones so much? Frankly I think they are ugly and their skin is Gingerbread-esque. All the Sony phones I have tried have also had lag to some degree...

I voted other because BlackBerry 10 will rock the world by storm. Especially if they get on that Jelly Bean kick like they promise. Otherwise if they don't attract developers and release JB then it's all Samsung.