updated 07:15 pm EDT, Thu September 16, 2010
Samsung Galaxy Tab confirmed for US launch
Samsung at its special event tonight confirmed plans to ship the Galaxy Tab to the US through all major carriers. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will all have versions of the seven-inch Android tablet. All of them will share the 1GHz processor, built-in 3G, front and back cameras and skinned Android 2.2 of the European edition.
Most changes will be limited to software. AT&T's version will have an app to streamline connecting to Wi-Fi as well as an AT&T Radio app. Verizon's additions are more substantial and will bring its Rhapsody-based V Cast Music store, its Video on Demand service and VZ Navigator as well as preloaded copies of the games Let's Golf and a port of the iOS game NOVA. It will also have a deep blue back to stand out instead of the reference Galaxy Tab's white.
Despite the simultaneous unveilings, all of the carriers involved have so far avoided committing to the launches. None have given pricing or provided a specific date for the tablet; Verizon expects a release in "coming weeks," while AT&T has implied a long delay and will only pledge itself to "coming months." The iPad-style keyboard dock and a GPS will cost $100, and the HDMI will cost $50. European pricing is over $1,000 for an unsubsidized model and may point to very high prices, though US carriers will subsidize the price on a contract.
The release nonetheless represents the first major competitor to the iPad to reach US soil. Competition with Apple has so far been limited to small firms like Augen and Velocity Micro that have usually focused on the budget end. Whether or not it succeeds is unclear, however. Samsung has said it's considering developing a Wi-Fi only version of the Galaxy Tab, but if locked to a cellular data plan it may be passed over by customers unwilling to pay several hundred dollars for two years of service. Apple's success is partly credited to having a cheaper Wi-Fi iPad and selling the 3G version unlocked, so that customers only have to pay for the data they use.