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Unlucky number four: Will the new Samsung Galaxy smartphone be called the S IV at all?

Posted on 14 February 2013


iOS6Here in the UK we're a little superstitious about the number thirteen, famous examples being Friday 13th, the omission of the 13th floor in skyscrapers and even the thirteen turns that make a traditional hangman's noose. But in South Korea, the home of Samsung, it's the number four that gets their nerves shaking. The name for this is tetraphobia, the fear of four.
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"I think I'll have a fourth glass of wine, please" suddenly has a bit of an undertone.

Many believe the reason for South Korea's four phobia - and the phobia of many other countries, including China, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan - is because the word for 'four' in their respective languages is the same, or at best very close, to the word for 'death'. In Korean 'four' is 'sa' and death...is 'sa'. 'I think I'll have a fourth glass of wine, please' suddenly has a bit of an undertone.

Many of the countries in East and Southeast Asia that are superstitious about the number four go to great lengths to avoid the number. If you go to a restaurant, you'll be hard pushed to find one with a table number of 4 and especially 44. Floors with these numbers are skipped, and if you want a cheap apartment, check out the ones numbered with fours, such as 404 – they're always cheaper as fewer people want to risk bad luck. In China, the designations, or code names, for military aircraft also never include the number 4...

...which neatly brings us back to the next flagship smartphone from Samsung, which many are calling the S IV, S4, SIIII and so on. As it will directly replace the Samsung Galaxy S III, it makes sense to slap a four at the end. But, as South Korea has tetraphobia, it seems that the four in the name is anything but certain.

Let's look at what we do know. The Samsung Galaxy S III had a little more to its name, namely a model number, which was GT-L9300. The next in line to the S III should have been called the GT-L9400 in testing scenarios, but reports from sites such as SamMobile.com give the S IV the model number of GT-L9500...the number 9400 appears to have been skipped. Samsung may have already begun to move away from four.

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If Samsung does skip the name 'S IV', what will it be called?

If Samsung does decide to name its new flagship device something other than the Samsung Galaxy S IV, what are the options? After all, if the Asian market won't buy a phone with four in the title, it could hurt the success of the new device. Well, it could call it the 'New Samsung Galaxy S', much like Apple did with its new iPad, or give the device a different name in its home markets, and leave the S IV title for the countries that don't mind fours, such as the UK and US. Samsung might even take a page out of Canon's book, the Japanese imaging and optical products manufacturer, who went straight from their PowerShot G3 camera to the Powershot G5, skipping the name G4 altogether. We could see an S V.

Alternatively, Samsung could just go for a brand new name entirely, although given the success of the S III, it would seem unwise not to use the Galaxy S moniker as so many people are familiar and comfortable with the name. With codenames like Project J and Altius J popping up in reports from sites like PhoneArena.com, Samsung really might go the whole hog and come up with a brand new name, but we won't know for sure until March, or maybe April, but hopefully before May of this year…

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