Samsung Rethinking Galaxy Tab To Upstage iPad 2


Amid strong rumours of a new Galaxy Tab, Samsung notes “inadequate” features, following the iPad 2 launch

Apple’s March 2 introduction of the iPad 2 is sending Samsung executives back to the drawing board.

“We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate,” Samsung executive vice president Lee Don-joo told the Yonhap news agency, reflecting on how Samsung’s contribution to a market spurred by the original iPad now holds up to Apple’s next-generation tablet. “Apple made it very thin,” he added.

Thinner And Lighter

Galaxy Tab 10.1

The iPad 2 weighs 1.35 pounds (0.6kg), versus the current iPad’s 1.5 pounds (0.68kg), and measures 0.34 inches (8.63mm) deep – making it a third thinner than the original iPad and thinner even than the iPhone 4. It features a dual-core A5 processor, which Apple claims makes the iPad 2 twice as fast as its predecessor. The iPad 2’s graphics are also nine times faster, it has a battery life of 10 hours of battery life, includes a built-in gyroscope, and front and back cameras for video calling.

Apple also opted to keep its pricing the same, which means that the starting price for the iPad 2 should be £429, running up to £699.

At the Mobile World Congress event on February 14, Samsung introduced its follow-up to its seven-inch Galaxy Tab, the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It features a 10.1-inch display, Flash 10.1 support, front and rear cameras, a 1GHz dual-core application processor, and runs the Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” operating system. The company has yet to announce pricing – though that may arrive, it seems, a bit later than expected.

“The 10-inch [tablet] was to be priced higher than the seven-inch, but we will have to think that over,” Samsung’s Lee told Yonhap.

Samsung may already have started bolstering up its tablet portfolio, with rumours that an 8.9-inch Galaxy Tab will be released on March 22. Speculation was fuelled March 3, when Samsung emailed an invitation to journalists to join Samsung executives that day for an event in Orlando, Florida, related to the Samsung tablet portfolio.

US Critics Less Impressed

If Samsung’s Lee was surprised by the iPad 2, US analysts were somewhat less so.

“Nothing revolutionary here – more standard evolution of the [hardware],” wrote analyst Jack Gold of J Gold Associates in a March 2 research note. “I don’t see any overwhelmingly compelling capabilities that would make people sitting on the tablet fence go out and have to buy one, despite some attractive apps.”

Gold, like others, noted another iPad rival that Samsung and the like might worry about instead – Motorola.

“I don’t see this as heads above the competition – especially the Xoom – right now,” Gold wrote.

Technology Business Research analyst Ken Hyers noted, “Some customers and developers bristle at the amount of control that Apple wields,” which might make them more likely to choose an Android-running tablet. “For hardware developers, it’s straightforward to build whatever device they want using Android,” Hyers told eWEEK. “Look at the Xoom.”

Hyers said that while the iPad 2 is “sleek and stylish”, it “will miss the boat in terms of screen resolution and cameras, where it fails to match the Motorola Xoom. Future Android tablets will likely push the envelope even further”.

The Xoom launched on the Verizon Wireless network in the US February 24, making it the first Honeycomb tablet to market but it will not appear in the UK until April. It features a dual-core Tegra 2 1GHz processor, dual cameras, a 10.1-inch display and 3D rendering capabilities. From Verizon, it is priced at $599 (£368) with a two-year contract, and later this year will be upgradeable to run on 4G.

Thinking ahead?

Since the launch of the Galaxy Tab in October 2010, Samsung has sold approximately two million of the tablets. During his introduction of the iPad 2, Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted that Apple, by contrast, sold 15 million iPads between April and December 2010.

In the press invitation sent for the March 22 event in Florida, an image of a tablet is shown, and over it the words, “What’s your Tab life? 78910.” The mysterious code, it is thought by some observers, could refer to Samsung’s line-up of seven-inch, 8.9 inch and 10 inch models.

Below the image, the invitation welcomes journalists to “discover what the buzz is all about” and join Samsung as “we experience a world of endless technological possibility. We’ll unveil our latest mobile products and innovations and explore the exciting new consumer lifestyles they make possible”.

Before then, however, it seems the folks at Samsung have some thinking to do.

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