Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

Summary: Samsung dominated the first day of CTIA Wireless 2011 with its announcement of two new tablets that could finally give the Apple iPad a run for its money.

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Samsung has changed its tablet strategy and this time the company has an approach that is a lot more competitive with the Apple iPad on price, form factor, and overall features. We'll have to wait until we do a full review of the new Samsung devices to decide if the overall product experience approaches what Apple has to offer, but since the Samsung tablet doesn't arrive until early summer and will be running Android 3.0, that gives Google time to repair the Honeycomb problems we saw in the Motorola Xoom and it gives developers time to write a lot more tablet-optimized apps for Android 3.0.

On Tuesday, Samsung announced its plans in Orlando at the CTIA Wireless conference -- the wireless industry's biggest event of the year -- stealing the spotlight for day 1. The Samsung sign below greeted attendees on the first full day of the conference and foretold the company's tablet strategy.

Samsung's CTIA sign telegraphed its tablet strategy. That is... 7, 8.9, 10. Photo credit: Jason Hiner

The Korean tech giant is switching to a three-headed tablet lineup. It will keep the 7-inch Galaxy Tab as its leadoff batter, but it's realized a tablet that small only appeals to a niche audience. Plus, when Samsung released the Galaxy Tab last fall it priced it too high - roughly $100 more expensive than the entry-level iPad.

The two new tablets that Samsung announced at CTIA have nailed the price tag. One is an 8.9-inch model and the other is a 10.1-inch model and both are priced at or below the entry level iPad. The 8.9-inch is aimed at consumers and its Wi-Fi version starts at $469 for 16GB. The 10.1-inch tablet is aimed at enterprise business professionals and it starts at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version.

At those prices, the Samsung devices could be the first tablets to siphon customers away from Apple. Samsung is the only other company right now that can compete with Apple in terms of designing and manufacturing most of the parts for its tablet, so it's no surprise that it's the first company to offer a comparable product to the iPad at a similar price. Samsung also has a strong consumer brand (from its TV business), a tablet form factor slightly thinner than the iPad, and an online store for purchasing books, music, and other types of media (to compete with iTunes).

The other smart thing that Samsung did with its tablets is to focus on the needs of business professionals -- the unsung catalysts that have powered a lot of the iPad sales so far. In the 8.9 and 10.1 tablets, Samsung has included hardware encryption, Exchange ActiveSync, built-in Cisco VPN client, and integration with Citrix, Sybase, and SAP software. Those steps will go a long way toward making these tablets palatable to business pros and IT departments.

Naturally, it's not all good new. The new Samsung tablets have a similar plastic body to the existing Galaxy Tab devices. Next to the metal iPad, the Samsung tablets feel cheaper and less substantial. Samsung has also chosen to layer its TouchWiz UI on top of Android Honeycomb. I think that's a big mistake. In testing the software at CTIA, the tablet version of TouchWiz looks just as blocky and clumsy as the versions that run Samsung's Android smartphones. The company would have been better off just sticking with stock Android -- especially since so much UI work has already gone into Honeycomb.

To get a closer look at the new Samsung tablets, see the two slide shows below.

Photo galleries

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, 10.1 hands-on

Samsung TouchWiz UX for tablets

Also read

This article was originally published on TechRepublic.

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Samsung, Tablets

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  • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

    "Niche"... Is this your opinion, or theirs? Because for a "niche" product, Samsung sure sold plenty of the original Galaxy Tab. And that's considering the high pricetag AND the lack of a Wi-Fi only version which was originally promised. As a matter of fact, the original Tab is the only tablet that has even come CLOSE to being a blip on the iPad radar...<br><br>On that note... is the 7 inch product going to drop in price as-is, or is the hardware going to be updated for Honeycomb duty? I can't possibly see the 7 inch continuing to sell at it's current price-point given the pricing of the other two.
    Playdrv4me
    • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

      @Playdrv4me <br><br>Facts are the 7" Galaxy Tab sold a little over 2 million to carriers and other electronic chains trying to jump on the iPad bandwagon (witness that all US Carriers were advertising it on their site home page). But who knows how many were actually sold to customers, Samsung and carriers won't say (just that it's "smooth" whatever that means). So when compared to the iPad 15 + million sold to actual customers, the Galaxy Tab is indeed a niche device. NOT even close to being a blip on the iPad radar....
      dave95.
      • When they won't tell, you know the numbers aren't good.

        nt
        fr_gough
      • frgough@..., I agree.

        @frgough@... <br>I would imagine the same issue in reference to the iPhone sales on Verizon.<br><br>We have not heard any sales numbers, so I would imagine that sales are not what they had hoped.<br><br>The same holds true with Samsung on tablet sales
        Tim Cook
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @dave95. You did not mention the marketing of both devices. Although I did see a few mainstream Tab ads, they were miniscule compared to the saturation iPad ads. Until recently, it was difficult to go an evening of network TV viewing without seeing multiple iPad ads after seeing a half dozen or so illuminated iPad ads on the way home from downtown that evening. Add in the episode of Modern Family dedicated to obtaining an iPad on release day, and all the free Apple mentions in the mainstream press, and you have an Apple marketing juggernaut. <br><br>I realize our tablet needs are different. I have both a Verizon Tab, and a 3G iPad. I tried taking the iPad out for a month, but it was too bulky, cumbersome, and restricted to make carrying it around all day worth the effort. Since obtaining the Tab on release day in November, I take the Tab with me every day while the iPad collects dust at home. An additional benefit is during this season, the Tab fits in my winter jacket pocket unlike the iPad.<br><br>If you compare the total mainstream ad budgets for iPad vs. Tab, I would not be surprised if the Tab outsold the iPad using the units sold per USA mainstream advertising $ spent metric. If the Tab did not win using that metric, it would be a lot closer than the raw sales numbers indicate. <br><br>I am not saying the iPad is a bad device; it is a nice, slick device that frankly is fun to use. Unfortunately, the iPad, and iPad 2 do not meet my mobile tablet needs due to their size, and restrictions such as requiring iTunes / limited file access. I have yet to connect my Tab to a computer. Setup, and all file transfers were accomplished OTA, Bluettooth, microSD Card, or WiFi. Requiring a computer to set-up a tablet is so 90's. <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
        gadgetlover
      • @Mister Spock

        oooh. Nice false equivalence fallacy. Lack of iPhone sales at verizon doesn't demonstrate poor iPhone sales. It demonstrates that the theory there was huge pent up demand for a Verizon iPhone was false. Lack of reporting on Samsung Galaxy Tab sales, on the other hand reflects on the product as a whole.
        fr_gough
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @gadgetlover I love the claim that the iPad (or any Apple product) sells simply because of marketing. Nobody is going to deny that Apple is great at marketing but that only gets you so far. If it simply came down to marketing the Xoom would be blowing away the iPad right now since I see at a minimum of 10 Xoom ads on network TV for ever single iPad ad for close to a month now. Samsung will have to do better marketing their new line but if they are going to be successful with their new offerings it's going to have far more to do with pricing than marketing. If the experience for the average consumer is even close to the iPad they should do very well with these new units.
        non-biased
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @dave95. FYI 15 mil reported is what was sold into the channel not what was sold to customers. So yes 2 mil is a blip on the same radar map to 15 mil.
        The_Omega_Man
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @dave95. But the iPad was the only tablet on the store shelves when it appeared and it's been around for a year. Not so with the G-Tab.

        We'll see how many iPad 2s are sold in the same amount of time that the G-Tab sold it's 2 million.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @gadgetlover

        The Galaxy Tab was prob not marketed as heavily as the iPad but it was definitely marketed enough, and everywhere. From magazines to billboards, on TV and radio. It was promoted heavily by carriers themselves looking to have their own 'iPad' on their network, and for months. At the end of the day, it hardly sold when compared to the iPad. Marketing is not everything.
        dave95.
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @Mister Spock: While I might agree with you in principle, there are third party reports that claim Verizon's iPhones <i>in use</i> now number some 10% of all iPhones currently in use, which would put them somewhere around 7 to 10 million already. While I'll grant that's not hard numbers from a knowledgeable source, that particular source has been reasonably accurate with their estimates before.
        Vulpinemac
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @The_Omega_Man Actually the only figures I have found online were that Apple had sold 7.2 million to customers by the end of Q3. With a whopping 4 million in Q3 so not too shabby. As for the 15 million numbers that would mean they sold 7.8 million in Q4 and Q1 of 2011? Probably not. Let's say they sold 9 million to account for decent sales in Q4, then the Tab was still a blip on the iPad radar (that's to @dave95). Hell it was the only blip for a non-Apple tablet. In the end Samsung has a win/win situation since they make the A4 and A5 chip for Apple.
        jm001
    • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

      @Playdrv4me: Yes, niche. It's selling only to devout Google fans and has next to no word-of-mouth anywhere. When the iPad 2 came out, it was everywhere. People, including non-techies, were talking about it and lining up for it (still are, as a matter of fact.) The Galaxy Tab may have sold a lot of units but in comparison to the iPad (which sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 20M) it's very definitely a niche product. Your argument reminds me of all those Mac users in the late 90s who used to get so offended by pointing out the fact that the Mac was a niche product. Sure, it had an installed user based of millions, but contrasted to the 100s of millions of machines running Windows, it was rendered a niche product. It's all about relative sizes and the Galaxy Tab is a niche player in the tablet market.
      Andre Richards
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @Andre Richards And why do people talk about the iPad or any other Apple toy? Because of the marketing and the fact that Apple targets the teeny-bopper market. The younger you indoctrinate a person the more they will follow. Think about it, when was the first iPod released?
        Romas27
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @Romas27 Doesn't matter one bit how good the marketing is if the users aren't satisfied enough with the product to either buy the next version or another device from the same company. Satisfaction rate is something you haters either can't grasp or can't acknowledge because it blows your argument out of the water.

        What does the first iPod release have to do with any of this other than it was made by Apple who is the current leader of the market we are discussing here?
        non-biased
      • Apple's installed user base in 1996...

        @Andre Richards: ... could hardly be counted in the millions; their annual sales were only about 750,000 which would have put the user base maybe at 2 million, but only barely. Apple's installed user base today is somewhere near 200million and growing faster than the average PC market and faster than any one of its competitors. That niche computer has come out of the closet.

        The same sort of thing is going to happen with tablets, too, unless Google retakes control of the platform soon. Yes, Android is growing faster than iOS--really, it's impossible for it not to--but if it doesn't develop some real reliability in both hardware and software, somewhere down the road it's going to get too fractured to stand up on its own; it's going to have too many variants for a single application to run reliably on all of them. To some extent, that's an issue with Linux itself right now as distros like Ubuntu try to make an effective GUI but the applications all have their own configurations--there's no standardization. For now, Android apps have a common core, but we already see where apps will work with one model, but not another--with no way to know for sure which apps will work with which model. Linux is the niche OS for desktops and it looks like Android's headed the same way. At least, it does unless Microsoft manages to shoot it down with litigation.
        Vulpinemac
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @Romas27[b]

        And why do people talk about the iPad or any other Apple toy?[/b]

        Ahh yes the first "insult" of the ABAer Apple Hater club... let's refer to it as a toy... idiot. The iPad can and does function quite well as a business device - it's capable of multi-enterprise accounts, with the available apps in the app store it can open, edit, and create office documents. Sure it does have limitations - it will not replace a laptop but it works well as a lighter laptop alternative for a quick business trip. And it's also an entertainment device so it's multipurpose... but sure, call it a toy if it makes you feel better. The short bus will be along to pick you up shortly.[b]

        Because of the marketing and the fact that Apple targets the teeny-bopper market. The younger you indoctrinate a person the more they will follow. [/b]

        I'll agree with the second part of this - it's a pretty basic and proven thing. Marketing however will only take a company but so far. Do you ABAers ever stop to think why Apple sells as much as they do? And why they have repeat customers? I'm not talking about the mindless "gotta have everything Apple (or Microsoft or whatever stripe zealot fanboy one is) thing" but I'm talking about the ones who get an iPod or another Apple product because of the marketing hype and decides that they really enjoy the product. They tell their friends and family, take it and show it off... basic word of mouth advertising backed up with proof. Sure there are a few lemons in the bunch but by and large Apple makes great products and people are catching on. [b]

        Think about it, when was the first iPod released?[/b]

        October 23, 2001... according to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod_Classic). If you want to know when I bought my first iPod it was actually my first iPhone bought July 30, 2008... yeah it took almost 7 years for me to buy into the hype. But that does that have to do with anything?
        athynz
    • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

      @Playdrv4me Here in Europe, they have been giving the Galaxy tab for free for a month now with each single new Suzuki car sold. So, this is only one case I am aware of, but they?re must be many others. Easy to ?sell? tens of thousands like that. As for Honeycomb for the older Galaxy. It has become clear that Android Phone-Tabs Developer are very actually slow, if they do at all, to produce software updates.
      ∞Dilemma
    • Not to contradict you, but...

      @Playdrv4me : What real proof of that do you have? What hard numbers can you show that says Samsung <i>sold</i> plenty of tablets? All I heard was that they Shipped a couple million to their retail outlets, but no statements on how many those outlets moved.
      Vulpinemac
      • RE: Samsung reboots tablet strategy and beats Apple on price

        @vulpine@... When I see line-ups for Android tablets as is the case with the iPad, then I will believe...
        prof123