The latest challenger to the Apple iPad tablet, Samsung's Galaxy Tab device, is coming to the United States through T-Mobile USA at a price of $399 with a two-year service contract, according to unofficial T-Mobile blog TmoNews.
The blog reported the price without contract at $649, according to leaked company documents obtained by TmoNews. Earlier in the month, news organizations reported the tablet would be coming to Sprint customers as well, for $399 with a two-year contract and at $599 without one. Asked for confirmation of these details, a Sprint spokesperson told eWEEK Oct. 8, "Sprint has not announced pricing or availability for Samsung Galaxy Tab."
The news joins reports that the Galaxy Tab is headed for other major U.S. network operators, including Verizon Wireless and AT&T. The Samsung Galaxy Tab originally debuted Sept. 3 at the IFA 2010 consumer electronics show in Berlin. It features a TFT-LCD 7-inch screen, a Cortex A8 1GHz processor and 16GB of internal memory scalable to 32GB of external memory, and it runs Google Android 2.2.
Samsung's other Android-based competitor currently on the market, the Dell Streak, sells for $299 with an AT&T contract and $549.99 unlocked. A number of other manufacturers, including Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion, are reportedly developing their own tablet PCs that either run Android, Windows 7 or a proprietary operating system such as the Palm WebOS.
Facing a growing threat from Android-based tablets (not to mention smartphones), Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently predicted that his company will have an iPad and Android tablet competitor on the market by the end of 2010. "You'll see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas," Ballmer told an audience Oct. 5 at the London School of Economics, according to Reuters. "Certainly we have done work around the tablet as both a productivity device and a consumption device."
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 will 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.
A July report from a Barclays Capital analyst said Apple will 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 will 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.