This week's Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013 in Barcelona, Spain, has been interesting for many reasons--one of them being Samsung's dominant presence everywhere, and Apple is nowhere to be found.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet made its debut as a direct competitor to the Apple iPad mini, sporting an 8-inch screen compared to the mini's 7.9-inch and is Samsung's smallest Note product to date, with a higher resolution of 1280x800 (189 ppi) versus Apple's 1024x768 (163 ppi).
Expected to be launched between April and June this year, the price has yet to be determined but is rumored to be more expensive than the Apple iPad mini. It will come in either a 32GB or 64GB model, with a 1.3-megapixel camera.
Samsung took a strong stance, stating it would double its tablet sales from year ago.
Apple has been seeking growth opportunities in the BRIC markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. In India, Apple is struggling to compete and take the lead against Samsung, which recently ranked by the Brand Trust Report as one of India's top three most trusted brands.
At MWC, Samsung also introduced the Samsung Wallet, an app directly aimed at Apple's Passbook and said it would launch the open API on March 7. Like Passbook, Samsung Wallet is designed as a central repository for your boarding passes, coupons, digital gift certificates, travel details, and tickets.
The app will also be able to send time- and location-based push notifications, alerting users to places where the Samsung Wallet app can be used. Furthermore, boarding passes and membership point cards will update in real-time as required. Samsung already confirmed that companies such as Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Lufthansa, the Major League Baseball, and Walgreens, were onboard with its Wallet app.
However, Samsung Wallet won't support near-field communications (NFC) features, despite a recent partnership between Samsung and Visa for tap-to-pay features in future smartphones. The Korean vendor said retailers still preferred to scan barcodes because it doesn't require any new infrastructure. Samsung has not yet confirmed if the Wallet app will be available for non-Samsung Android devices.
Intel's Tizen, which was also introduced by Samsung at MWC, is a new mobile OS expected to challenge Google's Android. The OS is seen as a potential alternative to the dominance of the Android platform, and has been driven in part by demand from carriers for a more open OS that can be fully utilized to its potential.
Tizen offers a level of customization which Android does not offer. Although the Google OS is open, handset vendors and carriers that use Android must follow a set of rules established by Google to avoid fragmentation.
Apart from Intel and Samsung as the two key players, other partners have agreed to support Tizen including Huawei, which is joining the steering committee of the Tizen Association, and European mobile operator Orange. Orange said it had committed to selling Tizen phones from Samsung and Huawei this year.
Samsung will launch Tizen-based phones in mid-2013, adding to its current lineup of smartphones, as it currently makes more Android-based devices than any other manufacturer, including Google.