Samsung’s Galaxy Tab will be one of the first tablets to try to wrest market share from the Apple iPad. Unveiled at the IFA 2010 consumer electronics show in Berlin, the device features a TFT-LCD 7-inch screen and a Cortex A8 1GHz processor, and it runs Google Android 2.2. Along with Dell’s recently released Streak, it represents the vanguard of Android tablets that threaten to swamp the market.
The Galaxy Tab will launch in Europe sometime in mid-September, followed by a U.S. rollout at an undefined point after that. Samsung is hosting a Sept. 16 event in New York City that could be the domestic unveiling, but has offered no further details.
But how does the Galaxy Tab match up to the iPad? Samsung has so far declined to offer any pricing, which will greatly affect the device’s adoption rate. The Galaxy Tab certainly features a smaller screen, compared with the iPad’s 9.7 inches, and its 7-hour battery life lags slightly behind that of its Apple rival. Android Marketplace, from which the tablet will draw its apps, is smaller than Apple’s App Store.
The Galaxy Tab will come standard with 16GB of internal memory, scalable to 32GB of external memory. That contrasts with the iPad’s three flavors: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. Both Samsung and Apple will support 3G and WiFi connectivity, although carriers for the Galaxy Tab remain unannounced.
Based on the specs, though, the Galaxy Tab does include some features conspicuously absent from Apple’s device. For starters, Samsung included a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls, along with a 3-megapixel back camera-neither of which are present in the current version of the iPad. The Galaxy Tab will also support Adobe Flash 10.1, which will allow it to display a variety of rich Web content unsupported by Apple mobile devices.
Samsung plans to officially launch its Media Hub service, which will offer downloadable movies and other content for the company’s devices, on Sept. 16. That will place it in direct competition with Apple iTunes; but much depends on the Media Hub’s selection and ease of downloading, about which Samsung has provided few details.
But cost could ultimately prove the deciding factor in whether people purchase the Galaxy Tab. A price that deliberately undercuts the iPad could attract customers reluctant to hop onboard with Apple; anything higher could potentially slow uptake, given Apple’s first-mover advantage in the space.
The other Android-based competitor currently in the space, the Dell Streak, sells for $299 with a two-year AT&T contract, and $549.99 unlocked. When asked about the Streak’s sales in the U.K., where it first debuted, Dell CEO Michael Dell reportedly used the terms “interesting, exciting, but immaterial to Dell’s $60 billion in revenue.”
Samsung is likely hoping for more of a breakout hit-but the timeframe to make this a two-way conflict between the company and Apple may be narrowing, if other manufacturers start releasing their own tablets to market. Hewlett-Packard is reportedly planning to import its recently acquired Palm WebOS onto a consumer tablet, along with a Windows 7 version aimed at an enterprise audience. Research In Motion is also rumored to have a tablet in the works, likely running some variant of the new BlackBerry 6 OS. Meanwhile, Microsoft has made very public its intentions to release Windows 7-equipped tablets via a number of manufacturing partners, but those plans have yet to actualize in a substantial way.
The Galaxy Tab could be the next device to make a substantial dent in the consumer tablet market, in other words, but it will likely be far from the last.