Another year, another round of rumors and talk about Samsung pushing up the launch time frame of the next Galaxy S phone. Some commentators are convinced that Samsung will show off the Galaxy S10 at CES 2019, running January 8-11, which would come nearly two months earlier than the Galaxy S9 launch this year. Not only do I not expect this to happen, but I also see no evidence of why Samsung would consider it.
Sales of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ may not have been as strong as some had expected, but they're still massive — estimates of sales over 30 million units for the year are still huge, and Samsung's overall profits are still increasing on a year-over-year basis. Looking at the simple financials of it, Samsung has no real incentive to accelerate its timeline to launch a successor any earlier than usual. The Galaxy Note 9, coming in early August, will also provide a bump to sales as the company heads into the holiday quarter.
To be fair to the misguided analysts, the Galaxy S10 will likely be at CES 2019 — it just won't be there publicly. Big trade shows offer a great opportunity for companies to take private meetings about current and future products, and the discussions between Samsung and various partners are no exception here. Being that the Galaxy S10 is likely to launch near the end of February or early March, the phone(s) will have been substantially finalized and in production by early January — perfect timing to meet with carriers, accessory makers and the like (under conditions of anonymity, of course) to see the new device or at least talk about its capabilities.
As far as public announcements go, CES is the type of show that suits the announcement of the forthcoming Galaxy X. Current rumor has it that CES will be the stage for Samsung to show off the new Galaxy X phone, at least in some capacity. While I'm still rather skeptical that Samsung would announce such an interesting and dramatically futuristic device ahead of the launch of the mainstream Galaxy S10, this show makes far more sense for a Galaxy X type device than a Galaxy S10.
CES is not only too early, but it's the entirely wrong occasion for a mainstream phone launch.
CES is more about showing off new and interesting technology, talking about overall company strategy and showing the future of companies rather than just the present. It's the type of show where we see prototypes and engineering samples shown off, not full-fledged mass-market products. CES is absolutely famous for producing amazing-looking products that never make it to market. Why lump your ready-to-sell Galaxy S10 in with thousands of companies all launching crazy products across the entire electronics industry? Samsung is a company that's big enough to command its own space, it's own time and the full attention of a large portion of the media and public when it launches a phone.
The Galaxy S10 itself may be exciting and surprising in many ways, but when it launches is entirely predictable — look past CES, and watch the late-February time frame.
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