If Samsung, with its Galaxy Tab devices, sought to secure the No. 2 position in the crowded market Apple created with the iPad, then with its new Galaxy Note 10.1, it appears to be going after Apple directly.
"If you have a Galaxy S III, and now millions of you do, this is the tablet for you," Travis Merrill, Samsung's director of marketing for tablets, told analysts and media members at an Aug. 15 event at New York City's Jazz at Lincoln Center venue.
iPhone users have the iPad, and now Galaxy S III users have an equal complement, was the implication, in a device that Samsung is promoting as both unlike anything on the market and one that's beginning a new chapter for the company.
"It's a chapter," said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung America, "that will completely redefine a category. We've done it with TVs, with smart appliances and with smartphones. Today, we are going to redefine tablets, as well."
The newest Galaxy Note, with its 10.1-inch display, is an evolution of Samsung's 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, which Samsung has sold more than 10 million of, the company shared. The Note 10.1 offers an improved S Pen, on a larger display, with applications specifically designed to not only work with it, will instigate people to use tablets in ways that they likely haven't been so far. It's also unique in its ability to position applications side-by-side-"true multi-tasking," according to Samsung execs, versus "toggling between apps."
While tablets have largely been about passive consumption, went the event's reiterated message, the Note 10.1 is about creation and collaboration. To prove it, Samsung brought out a few famous folks who spent a few weeks using the tablets, and presumably not only when Samsung's slick film crew was rolling.
Baz Luhrmann, the director, filmmaker and producer currently finishing up a version of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio, joined Baxter on stage to talk about how he's been using the tablet.
"Life is a multi-task," Luhrmann told the audience. "It's layers and layers of things we need to do, things we need to participate in."
When he made William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, the storyboards were created with paper and scissors.
"Now, we're [storyboarding] digitally and are able to share it in real time," Lurhmann added, noting that as a "collaborator, surrounded by brilliant people," this was particularly helpful thing to be able to do.
After a brief introduction by Younghee Lee, a senior vice president and head of marketing who explained, "At Samsung, we believe people are creative by nature," out came fashion designer Zac Posen.
"I try to be a cultural receiver dish," said Posen, explaining that he appreciated the collage-style capabilities of the tablet to bring together various images and other content into one space.
Samsung's Baxter, summing up the company's sentiment about its newest tablet, remarked, "Some will say it is not just changing the game-it's life changing."
Is this the tablet that will really take on the iPad?
"That's certainly been Samsung's intention all along. They're not going to do it with this one, though," Avi Greengart, a senior analyst with Current Analysis, told eWEEK.
"The Note 10.1 is probably the tablet that artists and graphic designers [and other creative types] will want, but in my hands-on with the device, I found the rest of the software to be not as polished [as the apps for the S Pen]. In terms of productivity, they have a decent story to tell, but that's what Microsoft will also be pushing with its Surface and other Windows RT Ultrabooks," Greengart continued.
The original Note-sometimes referred to as a phablet, for residing in the middle ground between a phone and a tablet-is a niche product. "So it's something for them to say they've sold 10 million of them-they've expanded the niche."
Greengart added that the number of Android applications specifically designed for tablets needs to be increased, whether that's a job for Samsung or Google (Samsung, with its Smart App Challenge and $4 million in prize money, seems to be doing its part). If that can happen, and Samsung can refine its software, he added, "There's an opportunity here."