Samsung: I don't need another data plan on my Tab

Samsung's Galaxy Tab is an impressive device, but I'm reluctant to purchase one if it means I can only afford one with a subsidized, monthly recurring carrier data plan.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

Samsung's Galaxy Tab is an impressive device, but I'm reluctant to purchase one if it means I can only afford one with a subsidized, monthly recurring carrier data plan.

Yesterday, to a select group of press and analysts at a special event in New York City, Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung demonstrated the Galaxy Tab, its first entry into the slate/tablet market and what is expected to be the first true competitor to Apple's iPad.

My colleague and ZDNet Assistant Editor Andy Nusca was present at the event and has all the nuts and bolts and speeds and feeds breakdown in his excellent post-mortem. From what I can surmise from his report and other coverage I've seen, I really want to own one of these new 7" devices.

Yes, I know, I already own an iPad, and I've professed my love for the device on this blog several times. But the idea of having a smaller, more portable 7" tablet device which has full Adobe Flash capability is compelling, and being something of a gadget-freak, I'd like to own one of each type of tablet platform so I can stay abreast of the technology.

I really like the fact that Samsung has committed to launching the device on all the major US wireless carriers, and that they are also going to release a non-3G, basic Wi-Fi version. However, there was one thing that Samsung completely avoided discussing in their press conference yesterday, and that was PRICE.

As my colleague Andrew pointed out, when companies are cagey in discussing price, that usually means the product is going to be more expensive than what consumers are going to like -- or that they haven't finished their negotiations with the carriers yet.

So, what should a basic, Wi-Fi only 7" Android tablet cost? Well, based on iPad economics, it should definitely cost somewhat LESS than $500.00. Yes, the Galaxy Tab has two cameras, memory expansion and all that, which the iPad doesn't, but if the company expects to go up against the market leader with a smaller screen and a higher price, then the Samsung executives need to check if there isn't anything "extra" added to their after-work Soju and do a bit of Seoul searching.

That higher price for a basic Wireless-N unit of course can be mitigated by carrier subsidy by purchasing a 3G-capable model, just in the same way that it is done with smartphones today. In my case, I paid Verizon Wireless $200.00 for each of my Droids (which would normally go for about $500.00 apiece unsubsidized) with a two year commitment with accompanying data plans that cost about $60.00 per month on each device, plus my family voice plan of 700 shared minutes that I pool with my wife.

Many families have similar such plans and have multiple smartphone devices, each with a data plan on it. I don't know about you, but if the price of the Galaxy Tab can only be made affordable by a carrier subsidy, which requires me to enter yet ANOTHER cellular data contract with a recurring monthly fee, then forget about it. I'll keep using my iPad.

Just between my wife and I with our two smartphones, I pay about $160.00 in total monthly recurring fees, and that's with a generous corporate discount. Your average family of three or four pays upwards of $200-$250 a month. Throw another data plan on top that for the Galaxy Tab? That will increase your monthly bill another $50.00-$100.00, depending on what terms the carriers decide to impose on these very data thirsty devices.

The Galaxy Tab is going to be a supplementary data device for many consumers and professionals. Unlike the Dell Streak, the North American version is not capable of acting as a phone, so that limits its capabilities and its market right out of the bat. Nobody is going to use one in lieu of a smartphone because it can't make calls, period.

Either Samsung figures out how to make the basic, non-3G unit affordable, or the carriers and Samsung need to figure out how to reward loyal customers which already pay for multiple smartphone devices that wish to add a tablet that piggybacks on top of existing data plans for a marginal supplemental fee with provisions for dealing with significant overages. That, or introduce pay-as-you go, contract-free pricing as AT&T does with the 3G iPad while keeping basic device costs down.

I'm sorry, but I don't need another stinking data plan. I already pay for two. Figure out a better way to make your tablet cost less money for the average consumer, or Apple eats your Bulgogi for lunch.

Would you buy a Galaxy Tab if it meant you had to incur yet another 2-year 3G contract? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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