Tablet Wars: Samsung, the Follower Turned Leader, Challenging Apple
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The maker of the hit Galaxy series of devices, Samsung Electronics, finally unveiled its latest weapon, Galaxy Note 10.1, to attack Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) mighty iPad. Though the South Korean tech giant is the undisputed champion in the smartphone space, in the tablet space Apple is still the king with a share as huge as 70% of the entire market.
Samsung till now somehow failed to leverage the success from Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android-powered smartphones to its tablets and now the phone maker is far behind Apple, having sold just 1.4 million tablets in the US from 2010 fourth quarter to 2012 second quarter, against 29.7 million iPads sold by Apple. So will this new offering be able to challenge the iPad and do what the Galaxy series did to iPhone? Let’s dig deeper.
The latest from Samsung
It seems like Samsung has put in a lot of thought while designing the Galaxy note 10.1 and the key focus point was the intention of making a personal connection with users by making its device capable of more human communication. Tablets are not a new-to-the-market device and people already know about them. Even Samsung has launched several tablets previously but none have been able to pose as a serious threat to the iPad and have failed miserably. But, like the phrase goes, failures are pillars of success. This surely can turn out to be the case with Samsung now. After its previous unsuccessful attempts, now the company has come up with certain features that will position its offering as superior in some areas to what the iPad offers.
Though the price tags are the same, Note and the iPad are definitely not the same. Samsung has carefully priced its new tablet in line with that of the iPad. The Wi-Fi only 16 gigabyte Note will be made available for $499, while the 32 gigabyte model will carry a price tag of $549. The Note will come with a 1.4GHz Quad-Core processor and 2GB of internal RAM which will bring out the true multi-tasking experience. However, the device will not have a display as attractive as that of the iPad 3’s Retina display. But this will be compensated well by some very interesting and new-to-the-tablet-market features such as the ‘S Pen’ and the split screen. These two features combine to be the USP of the device and Samsung has huge expectations for these.
The Note will be powered by Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android with provisions to be upgraded to Jelly Bean; will be a hair thinner than the iPad as well as lighter than the iPad and will come with front-facing speakers that sound much better than the iPad. Again, unlike the iPad, the Note will have an expandable-storage card slot. So, we can see there are plenty of differences between the iPad and the Note. But now, let’s dig into the true distinguishing features.
The distinguishing features
The new Android-powered tablet creates an unique identity for itself thanks to the ‘S Pen’ and the split screen option – the two features which the iPad lacks. The ‘S Pen’ is the same stylus pen which we saw in the Galaxy Note smartphone which allows users to enjoy a more personal experience with the device. The S Pen in the Note tablet will do everything it did in the Note smartphone and more. Thanks to a screen almost twice in size of that in the Note smartphone, the Note tablet will definitely provide a better S Pen experience and will be a perfect tablet for students and design professionals.
Samsung has sold almost 8 million Note smartphones is just seven months and this is a living proof that users wish to interact with the touch screen devices more accurately and effectively than fingers allow. With the S Pen, users can make hand-written notes, cards, emails, collages, presentations and so much more. Receiving a hand-written note from a known person is far more powerful and emotional than receiving just an ordinary email and this is point the company is using to uniquely position its latest tablet.
Another catchy feature that Samsung has added is the split-screen which will allow multiple applications to run simultaneously and thus bring in the PC-like multitasking feel into the world of tablets. The Note 10.1 will be the first of its kind when it comes to multi-tasking. The tablet is all about adding a personal touch to communications as well as doing many things at once. However, the split-screen works with a limited selection of apps which includes the S Note, email and browser.
Samsung has taken the lawsuit with Apple more seriously as shown by the shift in the designs of its devices. First, the Galaxy S III looks a lot different from its predecessors and now the galaxy Note 10.1 is also made to look distinguishable from the iPad. With these changes in place, Samsung is going to enjoy a more relaxing competitive environment. The South Korean phone maker has established its dominance in the smartphones space and now wants to bite into Apple’s share of the tablet market. However, Samsung is not the only company which has this intention.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is working in full swing to enter the tablet market and take away the smile from Apple’s face. With Windows 8 powered Surface tablet computers, Microsoft is expected to have a substantial impact on the dynamics of the tablet world. Recently there has been rumours that Surface running on Windows RT will be available for just $199, the same price at which Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7 are available. Now, if this turns true, Note 10.1’s price tag may pose as a problem for its success. However, if the rumour turns out to be false and the Surface range starts at the earlier estimated $599, Galaxy Note stands a huge chance to win the market. It’s not certain how much of a problem it will create for Apple, but surely the Note will ruin Microsoft’s dream of capturing a substantial chunk of the tablet market. Apart from Microsoft, Amazon is also looking at launching its next generation of Kindle Fire. Even the troubled BlackBerry maker, Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY) has plans to launch a 10 inch Playbook which will run on the BlackBerry 10 platform.
Users don’t want to go on using same old features year after year and instead they seek innovation. Samsung is providing just that. On one hand there is the iPad which doesn’t have much new to offer other than the retina display. On the other hand we have the Galaxy Note 10.1 which can do everything the iPad does and even more. It is opening totally new ways of using a tablet and putting a tablet to use. Again, it’s pretty clear that users have no problem in choosing Samsung over Apple as understood from the shipment numbers of the smartphones in the recent periods. Many people have gladly accepted Samsung’s smartphones over iPhones and can do the same in case of tablets, provided Samsung can really impress them. And it seems Samsung has found out the recipe for doing exactly that.
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