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Samsung has an unstoppable hit in Galaxy S4

commentary There's so much momentum behind the Galaxy S franchise that Samsung could have put out nearly anything and have a hit on its hands.

Samsung Galaxy S4 event
The Galaxy S4 on display.
Sarah Tew/CNET

No, it's not too early to declare the Galaxy S4 a roaring success.

So what if the latest flagship smartphone from Samsung Electronics won't be out for another month (at least)? Or that Samsung hasn't yet released any pricing information? Or that all of its key features had already been leaked in advance? Or that it's not even that different from the Galaxy S3?

The fact is, Samsung will sell boatloads of this phone, and the foundation for its success was laid down awhile ago.

As I explained earlier, Samsung has been relentless when it came to marketing the Galaxy S franchise and building out its brand, which broke out with the Galaxy S2 and truly hit mainstream awareness with the Galaxy S3.

Last year, Samsung spent $401 million on advertising just in the U.S., with a vast majority going toward television, according to Kantar Media. In comparison, Apple spent $333 million in the same period. Apple and Samsung spent nearly eight times as much on marketing as BlackBerry, Nokia, and HTC combined.

Samsung is now reaping the rewards of that effort. In truth, the company could have released anything with the Galaxy S4 moniker, and it still would have garnered impressive sales. There is so much momentum behind Samsung and Galaxy S that many consumers -- particularly ones who don't avidly read tech Web sites such as CNET -- will simply gravitate toward the Galaxy S4 on name recognition alone.

While consumers don't want to admit it, commercials are pretty effective -- especially if a company floods the radio and television airwaves, as well as pastes ads on billboards, subway stations, and all over the Web.

Whether it's the spot-on iPhone line commercials, the more recent "Unicorn Apolcalypse" series of business-focused ads, or tap dancers in Times Square drumming up attention for the launch, Samsung has spent a fortune ensuring that the company and its Galaxy S phone has your attention.

It doesn't hurt that the Galaxy S4 happens to be a pretty good phone, even it still has a plastic body and looks somewhat similar to the last iteration. What it does have are updated specifications, including a faster processor, a higher-resolution display, and a better camera. Also packed in are a slew of gimmicks such as gesture control and, yes, eye-tracking technology.

Whether these features will actually be used is another question. Last year, the Galaxy S3 had something called Smart Stay, which sensed when you were looking at a display and prevented it from going dark. It was a feature that was rarely mentioned again.

Regardless, the throngs of Android and Samsung fans will flock to the Galaxy S4. The only other smartphone in the industry that can command such good will is, of course, the iPhone. Apple fans are willing to wait in line for a product they haven't actually had a chance to hold. Even if the next iPhone enjoys only a few slight upgrades -- which could be the case with a rumored iPhone 5S on the way -- demand for the phone will still be sky high.

That's kind of how it feels with Samsung and the Galaxy S4. The company isn't quite at the level where fans will wait in line for the phone, but the Samsung fanboys are starting to grow as vocal -- if not more so -- than the Apple faithful.

At this point, the Galaxy S4 is a runaway train, something Samsung couldn't stop even if it tried. The rest of the industry better watch out.

Now playing: Watch this: Introducing Samsung's Galaxy S4