Apple's March 2 introduction of the iPad 2 is sending Samsung executives back to the drawing board.
"We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate," Samsung Executive Vice President Lee Don-Joo told the Yonhap news agency, according to Physorg.com, reflecting on how Samsung's contribution to a market spurred by the original iPad now holds up to Apple's next-generation tablet. "Apple made it very thin."
The iPad 2 weighs 1.35 pounds (versus the iPad's 1.5 pounds) and measures 0.34 inches thin-making it a third thinner than the original iPad and thinner even than the iPhone 4. It features a dual-core processor that Apple calls the A5 and says makes the iPad 2 twice as fast as its predecessor. The iPad 2's graphics are also nine times faster, and the device can achieve 10 hours of battery life and includes a built-in gyroscope and front and back cameras for video calling.
Apple also opted to keep its pricing the same, starting the iPad 2 at $499 and running up to $829.
At the Mobile World Congress event Feb. 14, Samsung introduced its follow-up to its 7-inch Galaxy Tab, the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It features a 10.1-inch display, Flash 10.1 support, front and rear cameras, a 1GHz dual-core application processor, and runs the Android 3.0, or "Honeycomb," operating system. The company has yet to announce pricing-though that may arrive, it seems, a bit later than expected.
"The 10-inch [tablet] was to be priced higher than the 7-inch, but we will have to think that over," Samsung's Lee told Yonhap.
Samsung may already be on to bolstering its tablet portfolio, with rumors that an 8.9-inch Galaxy Tab will be released March 22. Speculation was fueled March 3, when Samsung e-mailed an invitation to journalists to join Samsung executives that day for an event in Orlando, Fla., related to the Samsung tablet portfolio.
If Samsung's Lee was surprised by the iPad 2, U.S. analysts were somewhat less so.
"Nothing revolutionary here-more standard evolution of the [hardware]," wrote analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates in a March 2 research note. "I don't see any overwhelmingly compelling capabilities that would make people sitting on the tablet fence go out and have to buy one, despite some attractive apps."
Gold, like others, noted another iPad rival that Samsung and the like might worry about instead-Motorola.
"I don't see this as heads above the competition-especially the Xoom-right now," Gold wrote.
Technology Business Research analyst Ken Hyers noted, "Some customers and developers bristle at the amount of control that Apple wields," which might make them more likely to choose an Android-running tablet.
"For hardware developers, it's straightforward to build whatever device they want using Android," Hyers told eWEEK. "Look at the Xoom."
Hyers said that while the iPad 2 is "sleek and stylish," it "will miss the boat in terms of screen resolution and cameras, where it fails to match the Motorola Xoom. Future Android tablets will likely push the envelope even further."
The Xoom launched on the Verizon Wireless network Feb. 24, making it the first Honeycomb tablet to market. It features a dual-core Tegra 2 1GHz processor, dual cameras, a 10.1-inch display and 3D rendering capabilities. It's priced at $599 with a two-year contract, and later this year will be upgradeable to run on 4G.
Since the launch of the Galaxy Tab in October 2010, Samsung has sold approximately 2 million of the tablets. During his introduction of the iPad 2, Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted that Apple, by contrast, sold 15 million iPads between April and December 2010.
In the invitation Samsung officials sent journalists for the March 22 event in Florida, an image of a tablet is shown, and over it the words, "What's your Tab life? 78910." The mysterious code, it is thought by some observers, could refer to Samsung's eventual tablet lineup.
Below the image, the invitation welcomes journalists to "discover what the buzz is all about" and join Samsung as "we experience a world of endless technological possibility. We'll unveil our latest mobile products and innovations and explore the exciting new consumer lifestyles they make possible."
Before then, however, it seems folks at Samsung have some thinking to do.