A photograph is projected onto the sails of the Opera House during the unveiling of the new Samsung GALAXY S 4 smartphone at the Sydney Opera House. Photo:AFP / Greg Wood
The sails of one of the world's most iconic buildings, the Sydney Opera House, were lit up with images shot by ordinary Australians Tuesday for the glitzy "blue-carpet" launch of Samsung's new phone.
Samsung announced that Australia would be among the first countries to get the new Galaxy S4, which goes on sale globally this weekend in the latest high-tech salvo of its smartphone battle with Apple.
It will cost Aus$899 (US$920) and orders will open on Wednesday with full sales to begin in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday.
The cutting-edge touchscreen device, which boasts an array of technological advances including eye-motion sensors that will pause a video when the user looks away, was unveiled last month at New York's Radio City Music Hall.
Samsung is touring the device in 11 cities worldwide including Sydney in a series of glamorous events aimed at ratcheting up hype ahead of this weekend's sale, with costumed performers lining a blue carpet into the Opera House.
Yoon Seung-Ro, Australian managing director of the South Korean consumer electronics giant, said Samsung was particularly proud to launch its latest gadget at the Opera House under a new tie-up with the world-famous venue.
"Samsung was the number one selling smartphone brand globally in 2012 and we continue to be the number one growing smartphone brand in the world," Yoon told the Sydney launch event, describing the brand's "incredible success" in Australia.
"This is the new benchmark in terms of innovation in smartphones," he added of the S4.
Samsung ran a contest among customers ahead of the Sydney event asking them to submit their photos for projection onto the Opera House sails, with hundreds of images selected to be screened over a six-hour window.
The world's largest technology firm by revenue hopes the S4 will cement its dominance in the lucrative smartphone market, where it is the top maker worldwide with a 29 percent share and locked in a fierce battle with Apple.
In Australia, Android devices -- where Samsung is the major player -- outsell Apple 58 percent to 36 percent, though Apple has cornered the tablet market with a 77 percent market share to Samsung's seven percent, according to the government's communications regulator.
So intense is their rivalry Apple took Samsung to court in Australia in 2011 accusing it of patent infringements with its touchscreen technology, part of a broader global tussle in the US$100 billion tablet and smartphone market.