One Phone to Serve All: Is Galaxy Samsung’s iPhone?

Samsung today announced that the Galaxy S smartphone will be sold by all three major carriers in China, even though each uses different handset network standards. Globally, Samsung has already shipped 3 million Galaxy S phones and expects that number to increase to 10 million before the end of 2010. Introducing the device in China should help that goal as China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom collectively have roughly 758.8 million subscribers that could potentially be in the market for a Google Android-powered (s goog) Galaxy S smartphone.

What’s most noticeable is that Samsung’s Android approach is very different from that of HTC or Motorola. Android has been good for both: HTC profits are up and Motorola’s (s MOT) mobile division is making money again. The latter two offer various makes and models of Android smartphones at nearly every price point. In fact, if a week goes by and I don’t hear about a new Android phone coming soon from either of these two companies, I wonder if there’s something wrong with my email or feed reader. In contrast, Samsung has developed one phone with a common name and plans to use it around the world; when the Galaxy S was first announced, Samsung said it already had 100 carriers on board for the device.

As different as Samsung’s approach is when compared to HTC or Motorola, it’s very similar to that of Apple (s aapl) and the iPhone: aside from radio frequencies, just one device with minor tweaks to be sold around the world. By doing this, Samsung is avoiding some of the Android fragmentation issues introduced by handset-makers that come from varying hardware used and software or user interface customizations. That doesn’t mean every Galaxy S is identical across carriers or country; the Fascinate for Verizon (s vz) uses Bing (s msft) as the default search, for example, and the AT&T (s t) Captivate lacks the front-facing camera of the generic Galaxy S.

Aside from various differences in the phone that arise from carrier customizations, Samsung is smart to keep it simple with the Galaxy S line, and its iPad-competitor, the Tab, is a Galaxy S device as well. One basic framework to develop and support provides a consistent user experience and keeps Samsung’s costs down. While I’m all for consumer choice, it’s far easier to make a purchase if one well-designed phone can meet your needs instead having to sift through dozens of slightly different models. Based on my review of the Captivate and some hands-on time with a generic Galaxy S, Samsung has created one compelling smartphone it can leverage around the world. Given that thought, do you think it’s a coincidence that Samsung’s iPad-competitor, the Tab, is a Galaxy S device too?

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