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Summary:

Verizon Wireless will begin selling Samsung’s Galaxy S tablet for $600 next month. Many are bemoaning the no-contract price for this Android 2.2 slate, but it does offer features that Apple’s iPad doesn’t yet. There’s a market for 7-inch tablets, no matter what Steve Jobs says.

galaxy-tab-featured

Verizon Wireless today announced it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch Google Android tablet, on Nov. 11 for $599.99. This follows last week’s news that Verizon will carry Apple’s iPad in stores, starting Oct. 28. Unlike the iPad model, which is a Wi-Fi tablet that can be bundled with Verizon’s 3G MiFi, the Galaxy Tab uses an integrated 3G radio for use on Verizon’s wireless data network when not in range of a Wi-Fi hotspot. At only $30 less than the iPad, does the Galaxy Tab have a chance to sell well in Verizon stores, or at this price point, is it dead on arrival?

Device and Data Pricing

Clearly, there are physical and technical differences between 10-inch Apple’s iPad and the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, but the first aspect that many consumers will focus on is the price. Solely from that perspective, assuming Verizon will offer the 16 GB version of the Galaxy Tab, the closest Apple comparison is the 16 GB WiFi + 3G model, available for $630. A $30 savings on the Tab isn’t much, but keeping the price below that of an iPad could get consumers to look at the device.

Like the iPad, the Galaxy Tab doesn’t require a lengthy contract: in the press release announcement today, Verizon says “customers can add a monthly access plan beginning at $20 a month for 1 GB on their Samsung Galaxy Tab.” Details for additional data plans aren’t yet available, but I’d expect higher capacity plans to also be offered with the Tab. The lack of a contract is a plus for both the iPad and the Tab. If Verizon finds that more customers choose monthly data plans with the Galaxy Tab over the iPad plus MiFi package, it could discount the Samsung device in the future. And with a lower price, say closer to or under $500, the Tab could become a more compelling option to some.

Features

I enjoy the iPad I purchased in April, but as the initial model, it’s missing a few features that I’d like to see. Surely, that will be addressed with future iPads, but the Galaxy Tab actually offers some of those features now. For starters, the device has not one, but two cameras: a 3-megapixel sensor with LED flash on the back and 1.3 megapixel camera on the front. Thanks to new video-calling software from companies like Tango, you can use the Galaxy Tab for video calls with other Android device owners, or even with friends that own an iPhone 4 or new iPod touch.

Gmail on Galaxy Tab. credit: Carrypad.com

Since the Galaxy Tab runs Google Android 2.2 (Froyo), it supports widgets on home screens, meaning the Tab can show information at a glance like Facebook status updates, stock prices, or the local weather. Support for Adobe’s Flash Player is pretty much a dead-end on the iPad too, but not so on the Tab, which supports playback of Flash video through a browser plug-in.

Users of Google services will find much better support on the Galaxy Tab than on Apple’s iPad. Samsung has even optimized and designed such apps for a better Google experience as shown by this hands-on video at Carrypad. Watch it, and you’d be hard pressed to recognize the apps, which are very iOS-like in look and feel. I’d even argue that within the first minute of viewing the apps, some consumers would think the software was created by Apple.

Ecosystem

Here’s where the Apple iPad currently offers a distinct advantage: the iTunes App Store offers more than 25,000 apps specifically made for the iPad. By comparison, Google’s Android Market has few, if any, software titles targeted towards the 7-inch, 1024 x 600 display of the Galaxy Tab. Samsung has made great strides in reworking base apps for the Tab, but when it comes to third-party software, it’s simply too early in the life-cycle of Android tablets for a wide variety of great software titles.

The iPad clearly has the upper hand here by being first to market and enjoying the backing of a large number of apps; in addition to iPad apps, Apple’s tablet can run nearly all of the existing iPhone apps as well. That’s a huge advantage for the iPad, right? Maybe not, because although there aren’t tablet-specific apps for the Galaxy Tab, it should run all of the existing apps available for Android smartphones. The experience may not be optimal, but it negates some of the iPad’s software library advantage.

Portability

Earlier this week, on the Apple quarterly investor call, Steve Jobs said there isn’t a market for 7-inch tablets such as the Galaxy Tab. That size “isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps,” Jobs stated, claiming that, “10 inches is the minimum size for a great tablet.” I’m not sure I agree, because I’ve used 7-inch touchscreen tablets in the past; for nearly two years I carried one that ran Microsoft Windows, which didn’t provide an optimal experience. I’ve also ported Android to that same device and found Google’s platform to be quite usable, even on an old version of Android.

While the 10-inch iPad will come closer to a richer computing experience, a 7-inch model has merit too. A Galaxy Tab, for example, could be carried around more often than an iPad due to the smaller size and weight. At 0.83 pounds, for example, the Samsung tablet is half the weight of the 1.6 pound iPad WiFi + 3G model.

It’s easy to condemn Verizon’s $600 price tag for the Galaxy Tab, which has a smaller screen and fewer apps available. But the Tab offers some features that Apple’s iPad doesn’t have yet, and could be attractive to those who find they can get by with a lighter, 7-inch device. Sure, a cheaper Galaxy Tab would be even more attractive, and without a price cut, Verizon won’t sell millions of Galaxy Tabs this year, but it’s too early to say there’s no market for this Android tablet just yet, even at this price.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. Don’t forget the other selling point at Verizon stores – integrated 3G in the Galaxy Tab, not in the iPad. While this might actually steer me towards the iPad (added flexibility of the MiFi), for many people, only having to carry one device will be a plus for the Galaxy Tab.

    And I would even dread having to travel with an iPad, a MiFi, a phone, and the associated multiple chargers. Or having to start up two devices instead of one. OK, maybe I have convinced myself that the flexibility of the MiFi isn’t worth it!

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  2. Test Comment, since my last one disappeared into the ether.

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  3. Kevin, Why would Verizon sell a wifi+3G at&t device in their stores? I’d expect to find the wifi only models on the shelves with bundle deals for Mifi’s myself. That seriously changes the pricing model vs the Galaxy Tab.

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    1. Scotty, I didn’t say that Verizon would carry the AT&T version of the iPad. That model can be purchased directly from Apple and is the most comparable to the Galaxy Tab from Verizon, so I’ve mentioned it for comparison purposes.

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  4. The Galaxy Tab screen is 16:9 ratio so if you watch widescreen video or photo, Galaxy Tab actually shows bigger video than what you’ll see on iPad. iPad screen is 9.7″ 4:3 ratio so you get fat letterbox top and bottom of the screen.

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    1. Your math is wrong. Video of an aspect ratio of 16:9 will still be displayed larger on the iPad. Yes, you will get letterboxing, but the video itself will still be larger.

      A 7″ screen at a 16:9 ratio will give a 16:9 display area of 20.92 square inches.

      A 9.7″ screen at 4:3 will give a 16:9 display area of 33.77 square inches.

      It would take a roughly an 8.9″ at 16:9 diagonal screen to achieve the same area as the iPad’s 16:9 display area.

      http://www.silisoftware.com/tools/screen.php

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  5. [...] Android-operated Samsung Galaxy Tab give Apple’s iPad a run for its money? Maybe so, says GigaOm. Comparing the 16 GB version of the Galaxy Tab for $600 to Apple’s 16 GB model for $630, GigaOm [...]

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  6. Hey Kevin, check my series of videos of the new Archos android tablets, the Archos 70 Internet Tablet is similar to Galaxy Tab, it’s WiFi-only but supports Bluetooth tethering and Mifi for 3G access. Cool thing is it only costs $275 and to be released like in a week or something like that. The Archos Android tablets are as you know 2.8″ ($99), 3.2″ ($149), 4.3″ ($199), 7″ ($275) and 10.1″ ($299) in sizes. Compared to iPad, they got webcams for video-chat (for 7″ and 10.1″), they got full audio/video codecs support up to h264 high profile high bitrate 720p h264 mkv movies (with support for 4GB+ if splitting, ext3 formatting internal storage or through USB host or Samba/Upnp file sharing), supports USB host and finally also includes HDMI output (for 4.3″, 7″ and 10.1″). Here are some of my videos:
    http://armdevices.net/2010/10/16/archos-70-internet-tablet-review/
    http://armdevices.net/2010/10/09/google-marketplace-now-works-on-archos-gen8-internet-tablets/
    http://armdevices.net/2010/09/02/archos-101-internet-tablet-10-1-capacitive-android-2-2-froyo-299-tablet/

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  7. Totally DOA, for all the reasons you mentioned. The ecosystem is pretty bad for Android PHONES, i.e. most Android apps are poor imitations of their iOS counterparts, and I’d hate to see how poorly they scale to a larger screen. The features and portability don’t compare favorably to the Android smartphone you’re already carrying. But the real problem is the pricing; for less than half the price, I’d sooner buy the Archos 70 (even though it doesn’t have “official” access to the App Market).

    I don’t think the iPad is a compelling product given it’s limitations, size, and $500 price tag, but at $100 MORE than the iPad, I think you’d have to be pretty crazy to even consider a Galaxy Tab.

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    1. Mike: no argument on your opinion with the Archos or the Android ecosystem, but how do you figure the price difference? The $500 iPad doesn’t have 3G, while the Galaxy Tab does. It’s $630 for integrated 3G in the iPad, but $600 for the Tab, so the Tab is $30 less, not $100 more, right?

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      1. Obviously you are correct, but for the fact that I don’t value having 3G data in a device that isn’t a phone, and neither do most consumers. I’m sure that if you broke out the sales figures for the WiFi vs. 3G iPad, it’d be 20-to-1 in favor of WiFi-only.

        Saying that the Galaxy Tab is more expensive because of features that most people don’t want is not a compelling argument to me.

        Furthermore, if Archos (not exactly mass-market) can make a 7″ tablet for $275, then a 3G device with slightly higher-specs would justifiably cost around $400 – not $600 like the Galaxy Tab.

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  8. At $600 it may not be DOA, but it won’t be a runaway seller (a’la the iPad) either. I suspect that the price drop of $100 will be announced within 6 months of release.

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    1. Totally agree, Todd. It won’t see iPad-like sales numbers, but it should sell a respectable amount; possibly the most yet for a non-Apple tablet. And I’d love to see that price drop too.

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  9. I don’t get it. I can barely read EVO on the iPad. How does it get better when the screen gets smaller?

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    1. The Android browser has smart HTML reflow. So when you zoom in to a document the text is reflowed to fit the width of the display. This makes reading at larger font sizes much easier. It’s also very different from the iPad and iPhone where you must pan and zoom once you excede the width of the display.

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      1. We’ve been seeing this type of reflow for years, for example Opera has done it for years first on WM platform. No matter how smartly the webpage is reformatted, you can still only fit a certain amount of content onto a webpage. If anything the more it is reformatted the less and less it looks like a “webpage”. I understand certain users just want the pure and raw content aka just text, but I like to view a webpage in its entirety, including pictures/graphics, comments, etc.

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      2. @spindoc – Have you actually tried Android’s browser on a device like an HTC EVO of Moto DroidX? It’s hardly comparable to WinMo’s old implementation. It’s like using Cmd/Ctrl +/- on your desktop browser.

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      3. You very conveniently left out battery life. I suspect it is significantly better on the iPad.

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      4. Sorry my comments are in the wrong order, the websites login leaves something to be desired.

        I have seen the webpage reflows on an Android browser, and actually I think they are worse than the older Opera reflows for example. At least the older reflows took graphics and non useful information out of the webpage for a more clear unobstructed view of the content. As you mention the android browsers work more like Ctrl +/- which isn’t a good thing, it’s still a small screen you are shrinking everything on and you can only fit so much on a small screen regardless of how “smart” the reflow is.

        That’s really the achilles heel. Ignore all the other downfalls of the Tab and you still come full circle to the small screen.

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  10. I created a comparison chart of Galaxy Tab vs iPad+3G specs

    http://goo.gl/x9GC

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    1. Galaxy Tab Advantages:
      -multitasking (iPad will get quasi-multitasking in Nov.)
      -one-handed operation
      -half the weight
      -half the size
      -denser display pitch
      -front and back cameras – still and video
      -HDMI output
      -USB access to files
      -external slot microSD card expansion
      -choice of 4 US carriers (not just AT&T)
      -carrier-subsidized pricing option available
      -slightly cheaper than 32GB iPad+3G
      -16:9 screen format
      -Flash 10.1 in browser
      -cloud syncing and backup

      iPad Advantages:
      -108% larger display
      -30% higher resolution display
      -App Store with more apps including 35K optimized for iPad screen size and resolution
      -available in Wifi-only model
      -aluminum unibody
      -iTunes integration

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      1. Half the size is a disadvantage, not an advantage! Denser display pitch? What a joke the screen is much smaller. My smart phones are half the size and weight of the Samsung, so is that an advantage?

        Since the iPad will have multi-tasking in November as you noted and this thing does not come out the market until November you can remove that so-called advantage.

        iPad has all the choice of carriers it needs as it IS being sold with a MiFi and Sprint has been pushing the same strategy for many months, even giving away FREE iPad cases with a purchase of a MiFi from them.

        Slightly cheaper? Another joke for a smaller screen!

        HDMI output? iPad can output video to any HDTV with the Apple cable.

        Cloud syncing and backup? Well iPad has many of the same options.

        I think your list needs revising.

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      2. @ Stephen

        You can have your opinions, but those are all things that some people may consider advantages.

        – iPad gets quasi-multitasking in November. It’s a massive improvement. But like it or not, iOS doesn’t provide the same level of multitasking support as Android.

        – iPad has 1024×768 analog VGA video output. Galaxy Tab has 1080p HDMI video output. Not the same thing.

        – Size and weight: Some people may find a more portable and easier to hold device to be an advantage.

        – iPad does not have cloud syncing and backup available except to individual apps.

        – cheaper: as in fewer dollars. You’re arguing perceived value.

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