Samsung Galaxy S III U.S. Launch is a Confusing Mess

IT Management

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No doubt Samsung would have loved to have launch it's new flagship Android smartphone, the Galaxy S III, globally in a single day. The realities of cellular service in different countries, however, make this impossible. The next best plan is to release it in Europe and Asia first, then roll it out to the U.S. Samsung scored big when it announced all of the major U.S. carriers would be hosting the phone on their network. Unfortunately, the U.S. cell phone industry is so screwed up, and Samsung's supplies of the phone are so limited, that not even a country-wide debut on a single U.S. carrier was possible.

Samsung announced today that the Galaxy S III has officially launched in the U.S. The company held a large party in a trendy New York gallery last night, hosted by Ashley Greene (I Googled it for you - she's an actress from Twilight). While U.S. Samsung executives were partying with Steve Nash and Skrillex, though, it was already clear that most customers in the U.S. would not be able to purchase the new device for around another week.

The only guaranteed place for customers to get their hands, physically, on a Galaxy S III today is at a T-Mobile store in a very large city. T-Mobile is also selling the phone on its website, though it states that the device is not in stock, and will ship as soon as it arrives (the website estimates a June 29 ship date). The top 29 markets for T-Mobile are selling the smartphone today (via TmoNews): LosAngeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Phoenix, AZ; Houston, TX; SanDiego, CA; NewYork, NY; Seattle, WA; Miami/Ft.Lauderdale, FL; Dallas/Ft.Worth, TX; SanFrancisco, CA; SaltLakeCity, UT; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN; Tampa/St.Petersburg, FL; Philadelphia, PA; SanAntonio, TX; Portland, OR; Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; KansasCity, MO; Boston, MA; Sacramento, CA; Orlando, FL; Detroit, MI; Washington DC; Cleveland, OH; Jacksonville, FL; Charlotte, NC; and McAllen, TX. T-Mobile customers in other cities will have to wait until at least June 27 to see the phones in their area.

Sprint, like T-Mobile, had promised supposed to launch the Galaxy S III today, but demand for the phone means that not everyone will receive theirs on time. The company has stated that it will try to ship all 16 GB Galaxy S III pre-orders to customers today, but there might be delays of up to two days. Customers who pre-ordered the 32 GB version will have to wait until at least June 28.

AT&T pre-orderers were promised their Galaxy S III's as early as today, but the company is now asking them to be patient with its June 28 ship date. And that's just for the 16 GB version. It doesn't appear that AT&T is even getting the 32 GB version any time soon. Instead, the company is offering a more expensive package with a 16 GB MicroSD card included, and calling that the 32 GB package. AT&T will be getting a red version of the phone at some point, though. Yay.

Verizon was already going to be the last carrier to get the Galaxy S III. Today the company announced that its launch date for the smartphone has been pushed back yet another day, all the way to July 11. Customers who pre-ordered early should have their devices by July 9 or 10, though.

Why is all of this happening? The demand for the phone has somehow exceeded Samsung's manufacturing capabilities. Instead of simply selling the phone and allowing the customer to choose a carrier (as it's done in Europe) every separate U.S. carrier had to split a deal with Samsung on subsidy pricing. No doubt ship dates were a factor in these negotiations. So, we now have tenuous release dates where most of the country has no idea when the phone will arrive in their area.

At least Samsung managed to sidestep Apple's patent lawsuit, which would have delayed the phone's release even more. Also, it's clear from the delays and staggered releases that the Galaxy S III will probably be Samsung's best-selling smartphone of all time. That, and not the release date, is certainly what Samsung was celebrating last night in New York.