Samsung’s Galaxy S3 is the posterboy for team Android. With a whopping 4.8 inch HD Super AMOLED touchscreen, nippy quad-core processor, an 8MP camera with 1080p recording capabilities and NFC technology built in, it’s every bit the match for its Apple rival, the iPhone 4S. According to analysts JP Morgan, it’s been a run away success selling 6.5 million devices and expected to hit 10 million units sold by the end of the month.
So why are there so few accessory manufacturers jumping on board to make accessories for the Galaxy S3?
Go into even the pokiest of supermarkets, and it’s odds-on that you’ll be able to pick up an iPhone case and compatible headphones and, if the store has an electrical section, almost certainly a compatible speaker dock too.
If you’re looking to do the same for an Android phone, you’re going to struggle. There are hardly any compatible docks (I’m not counting hooking them up over the 3.5mm jack) or headphones with in-line remotes, and the same goes for cases. To pick up extras for Android devices, you still have to head on to specialist online retailers, or delve into the murky world of shoddy eBay sales, where the quality and origin of your purchases are at times questionable.
The fragmented nature of Android phones has in the past gone someway to explaining this; with so many varying Android handsets out there third-party accessory manufacturers have struggled to pinpoint which devices are worth the effort of making gear for.
But it’s not like the accessory manufacturers couldn’t have predicted the S3’s success. With Samsung’s Galaxy S range now well established and much loved, it was clear months before release that millions of this specific handset would sell, and that a market for accessories existed here. Hyped to iPhone levels of anticipation prior to release, it is after all the follow up to Samsung’s Galaxy S2, which has shifted a cool 24 million by June of this year.
Now that’s not to say it’s impossible to get Android-compatible extras. Proporta, Incipio and Belkin all do a range of cases for the S3 phone, Klipsch have an Android-compatible pair of S4A headphones with in-line remote, and Samsung themselves have put together a very attractive valve-based speaker dock too. But while there are a handful we’ve undoubtedly missed, it’s nowhere near the range you can find for Apple’s gear.
So what’s the reasoning behind this discrepancy? It’d be naive to think the manufacturers have just overlooked this market. Is it a case of a lack of support from Samsung? Or, more worryingly, a fear of losing Apple-certification on their other gear if they get too close to an Android device?
When it comes to audio devices, speaker specialists Braven see no reason why more wireless docks cant hit stores:
“Wireless accessories are the way to go with the Samsung S3, specifically Bluetooth headphones and speaker systems (both portable and home),” said a Braven spokesperson.
“This is particularly pertinent because – unlike the iPhone – the Samsung S3 supports superior-quality aptX Bluetooth, meaning you can get a really decent sound from a wireless set-up. And unlike Apple AirPlay, you won’t need a wi-fi network to get it, either.”
Perhaps the Google Play store is also slightly to blame; iOS devices have access to Apple’s superb App Store, where high-quality apps do so well that there’s even a market for “appccessories”; gadgets designed purely to be used in conjunction with a sole iOS app. A quick look at the boom in mobile iOS audio recording interfaces to be used with Garageband and similar musically-inclined apps quickly proves this. Is a lack of quality of Android app development also to blame? Indeed, the Android app scene has come on leaps and bounds over the past year, but again fragmentation likely means we’ll see few manufacturers taking a risk on “appccessories” for the S3.
\’Historically, iPhones have been consistent strong sellers, so it was natural for us to develop custom cases for iPhone,” said Wojtek Kolan, Head of Business Development at thumbsUp!.
“iPhone users are passionate about the style of their phone and as so many people have the same model, users like to customise theirs and pick a design which stands out. This means that thumbsUp!’s novelty and retro designs have proved popular, and are widely accepted amongst iPhone users.
“Obviously, the more variants of a case there are, the harder it is to manage, with minimum quantities, (there are 3 different models of Galaxys alone) so stock control would be a problem. But actually, introducing more of our custom cases for Samsung is something we are looking to do, as their market share in increasing. We like the design of the S3 and will certainly be looking to develop novelty and retro accessories for it.”
In the meantime, Galaxy S3 owners are left with a top-notch handset with very little to soup it up with, while case, dock and other accessory manufacturers are almost certainly missing a trick.