updated 10:00 pm EST, Mon February 27, 2012
Executives pin hopes on 5-, 10.1-inch Note models
An official at Samsung was unusually candid during a media roundtable at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, admitting the obvious but rarely-spoken truth that the company's attempts to replicate its smartphone success in the tablet market had failed. "Honestly, we're not doing very well in the tablet market," product strategy executive Hankil Yoon said, but added that Samsung expects to change that this year.
At the heart of Samsung's optimism in the tablet space is the newly-announced, stylus-equipped Galaxy Note 10.1, a larger version of its oft-criticized five-inch Galaxy Note original (MacNN reviewed the five-inch model earlier this month). Electronista staff that have had a chance to try out the 10.1-inch version said that although its an improvement in most areas from the five-inch model, overall they preferred Samsung's seven-inch Galaxy Tab 2, also on display in Barcelona.
In part, the failure of the original Galaxy Tab line to sell well may -- ironically -- have to do with its overt resemblances to the iPad, which landed the company in several court cases in Australia and Germany, most of which it lost. Now back with more distinct designs (and in the case of the Galaxy Note 10.1, Android 4.0 on board), the company should be better able to distinguish its products better, which may actually help it position the Note line as a stylus-sporting alternative for creative and business work, and get the Korean company away from its "Same-sung" copycat image.
Now facing competition in the tablet space from both the iPad -- which is expected to refresh its lineup in the coming weeks -- and Amazon's Kindle Fire reader/tablet hybrid, Samsung has opted for an all-sizes strategy. The company will now offer the Galaxy Note five-inch model as a "phablet" phone and mini-tablet, the seven-inch Galaxy Tab 2 in the "budget/pocket" tablet category, and the bigger-than-iPad Galaxy Note 10.1 for a full-sized tablet option. Pricing on the five-inch Galaxy Note is set at $300 with a two-year contract in the US ($200 with a three-year contract in Canada), while the Galaxy Tab 2 and Galaxy Note 10.1 prices remain unannounced at present.
Yoon was quoted by CNet as saying that Samsung expects to sell 10 million of the five-inch model, and said that the 10.1-inch Galaxy Note will likely replace the similarly-sized Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the market. He did not speculate on sales projections for the 10.1-inch Note model but said that the addition of the S-Pen -- what Samsung calls the stylus that accompanies both Note products -- would set it apart from competitors by allowing easier note-taking and other creative uses, such as with Adobe's new Photoshop-related tablet apps.
He also cited the larger screen as a selling point, though in many reviews the screen sizes of both the five-inch and 10.1 inch Galaxy models has been found to be a bit unwieldy. Yoon added that it would take some "education" for consumers to get comfortable with the larger sizes, but that once users were adjusted, they would feel that other devices look "too small." [via CNet]
Galaxy Note 5-inch