Cautious approach contrasts ambitious Berlin call
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics appears to be readjusting its strategy over how to fight Apple's two-pronged onslaught, based on the iPhone and i-Pad.
Evidently, Samsung is no longer as focused on the Galaxy Tab as it was months ago.
The Tab is Samsung's tablet computer that is scheduled to be released to secure its share in the emerging lucrative tablet computer market, going head to head with the iPad
Some industry watchers cite as an example the reduction in the number of carriers worldwide, with which Samsung plans to launch the Tab. They say that this reflects Samsung's wait-and-see attitude, a change from its fanfare over the Tab.
The Tab with a 7-inch LCD screen, powered by Google's Android operating system has been touted as Samsung's answer to the iPad, featuring an extra camera and cellular function at a more affordable price.
"Samsung had originally planned to release the Galaxy Tab via over 110 carriers worldwide, including major ones in the United States," said an industry source. "Now, the number is adjusted down to 80."
This readjustment came after Shin Jong-kyun, the chief of Samsung's telecom unit, ambitiously declared that his company will sell 1 million Tabs by the end of this year and 10 million by next year.
Shin Young-june, a senior spokesman at Samsung, declined to comment, but added it has been in detailed talks with major carriers in Asia, Europe and the United States for the release of the "all-in-one" computer.
"Major handset and PC makers are busy readying their own tablet PCs, being inspired by Apple’s proven success of the iPad. But the key question remains over sustainability," said another source.
This doesn't mean that Samsung is leaving its key market for its tablet computers untapped but its strategy is more about going easy on its overseas marketing at least in the early stage.
This cautionary approach can be also detected on a sense of tight secrecy over Tab pricing.
Samsung executives were mum on unveiling the pricing plan for the Tab.
But one executive unofficially said he was expecting the price to be set between $300 and $400 with monthly wireless service contracts, which is quite a bit lower than the iPad, which starts at $499.
For the U.S. market, Samsung has enlisted the support of three U.S. carriers ― AT&T, Sprint and Verizon for the computer. Vodafone in the United Kingdom is also on board.
iSuppli, a U.S.-based market research firm, said Apple will take up to 74.1 percent of the global tablet PC market by the end of 2010.
"Samsung needs months to check out initial responses of its tablet computer whether it will be able to efficiently cope with the iPad. After getting through reviews, it will try to supply more carriers," said another industry watcher.
Samsung is to expand the Tab lineup possibly to six-inch and 10-inch models, next year, with advanced AM OLED screens, its telecom chief Shin said on the sidelines of the recently finished IFA trade show in Berlin, Germany.
It is not certain whether this plan has also been tempered.
The Tab will go on sale in Europe from next month ahead of the United States. Samsung will give the details of the carriers’ subsidy plans at a Sept. 16 event in New York, according to sources.