While Apple may be enjoying brisk sales of its touch screen iPad tablet, with more than 3 million of the devices sold since the launch earlier this year, Samsung is gearing up to debut a rival of its own, in a form factor that sits neatly between the iPad and Apple's popular iPhone smartphone. Images and information leaked onto the Web and released via Samsung's corporate Web site, details about the device have begun to emerge, including Google's Android operating system and features including 3G and WiFi, a 16:10 screen ratio, a SDHC memory expandability, and a DMB tuner for TV viewing and something the iPad lacks-a front-facing camera for video calling.
The latest Internet rumor suggests the tablet will be available to CDMA carriers and will debut sometime in early September, though Samsung has yet to officially confirm a specific date. Adding to the Tab rumors is a report from technology blog OLED-Display.net, which claims to have found listings for official Samsung Tab accessories, including a leather bag, charging station, keyboard, USB cable adapter and earphones.
Apple's iPad, in comparison, is 0.5 inches thin and weighs 1.5 pounds, sports a 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen multi-touch display and delivers up to 10 hours of battery life. The iPad starts at $499; Samsung has not yet released a price for the Galaxy Tab, but is expected to do so at a press conference on Sept. 2 at the IFA Expo in Berlin. True to form, Apple has scheduled a press conference the day before, where the company is expected to unveil versions of its revamped iPod Nano digital music player.
While the current hype is focused on Samsung, some reports suggest the iPad will still dominate the tablet market into 2012. An August report from IT research firm iSuppli predicted that while the iPad would face competition from HP, Lenovo, RIM, Google and others, the tablet won't face a "viable competitor" until 2011. The firm said Apple's complete integration of hardware, software, operating system and applications is a major piece of what makes the device a standout.
"Companies are quickly developing products that match or exceed some of the surface hardware specifications of the Apple iPad. But it's still unlikely that any of the competitors will be able to equal the overall performance experience of the iPad," said iSuppli director of monitor research Rhoda Alexander. "If recent history is any lesson, it will take some time for these companies to get their products to market, longer for them to offer necessary software support and infrastructure, and an even lengthier period to begin to rival the overall user experience Apple is able to deliver."
A July report from a Barclays Capital analyst said Apple would sell about 20 million iPads in 2011, negatively affecting lower-cost notebooks as well as the netbook market. Other analysts have also suggested growth for the tablet PC market, with research firm IDC estimating that worldwide media tablet shipments would total 46 million units in 2014. "IDC expects consumer demand for media tablets to be strongly driven by the number and variety of compatible third-party apps for content and devices," analyst Susan Kevorkian wrote in a May statement.