7 Comments

Summary:

Samsung’s new Galaxy Player appears ready to take on Apple’s iPod touch, but can it compete? It looks like an attractive option for the Google Android crowd who wants a web-connected media player and e-book reader in a pocket, but without the monthly cellular bill.

samsung-galaxy-player

Leveraging the success of its Galaxy S smartphone line, Samsung today introduced two models of Galaxy Player handhelds, expected to launch later this spring in the U.S. At first glance, the 4- and 5-inch devices appear to be Android-powered Samsung smartphones, complete with front and rear cameras, touch screens, and Adobe Flash support, but these don’t include a cellular radio. Instead, the new Galaxy Player line uses Wi-Fi for connectivity, just like Apple’s iPod touch. But why would Samsung ever attempt to take on Apple’s iPod, which holds an imposing majority share in the digital audio player market?

There are a few reasons that this move makes sense, and the first one stems from the Galaxy S smartphone lineup. By selling more than 10 million of the handsets in the second half of 2010 alone, Samsung has proven that it can build a competitive smartphone. Indeed, thanks to the Galaxy S lineup, Samsung showed the most sales growth in the final quarter of 2010 compared to its peers, boasting a 438.9 percent year-over-year boost, per IDC. Why not try to mirror that success in the media player market?

A fair criticism to the Galaxy Player is that with the rise of smartphone adoption, it may not make sense to create something without cellular capabilities. However, the lack of cellular connectivity would appeal to consumers that want everything such a device has to offer except for the inflated monthly phone bill. And one only has to look to Apple to see that the iPhone hasn’t completely cannibalized iPod sales: although sales are slowly declining, in the last quarter, Apple still moved 19.4 million iPod devices.

Apple enthusiasts may rightfully suggest that Samsung’s Galaxy Player doesn’t have a shot against the iPod touch because it will always lack Apple’s iTunes ecosystem — one of the reasons perhaps that Microsoft’s Zune player is dying a slow painful death. That’s a fair point since the Galaxy Player runs on Android 2.2 (and will be upgradeable to Android 2.3), meaning it relies on Google’s Android Market. But the Amazon MP3 store can easily take the place of iTunes for music shopping. The addition of doubleTwist AirSync even allows for easy wireless media transfer and playback on Android devices.

The real secret sauce, however, may be Samsung’s own ecosystem, which it has been quietly building for the Galaxy line. The Music Hub supports subscription music in some countries, and while Samsung’s Media Hub doesn’t have the widest variety of choices yet, it is at least an option for movie and television content. And iBooks has nothing on Samsung’s Reader Hub, which truly is a one-stop destination for e-books, newspapers and magazines.

Instead of ceding the market for pocketable, connected devices with mobile browsing and application capabilities to Apple, Samsung’s clearly wants a fight, and it’s well-positioned to start one. Up to now, few could compete with the iPod touch. Thanks to a well designed smartphone and the Android platform, Samsung may be the first.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. “However, the lack of cellular connectivity would appeal to consumers that want everything such a device has to offer except for the inflated monthly phone bill.”

    Yep, a VOIP-smartphone.

    It’s a good alternative to the iPod for those that haven’t yet invested into the iTunes ecosystem or want to get out of it. Much easier to get music on and off the device–no need for a desktop client–and they will have full access to the Android Market for players, apps, and games. Could be a big hit for children and teens.

    There is one other thing. . .
    Google has been gearing up the Android Market for music. We know it’s coming and expected it earlier. I think they will announce it at the I/O conference, and this may be a legitimate alternative to iTunes music.

    Funny though, if you think about them as “WiFi tablets” Samsung now has 4, 5, 7, 8.9, and 10.1 inch tablets. . . where’s the 6″ & 8″. . . come on Sammy ;)

  2. wish the 5″ had a 10×6 instead of 8×4 resolution

    1. or even qHD, i’m a big fan of 960×540 in this size category.

  3. Competition for Apple is good news. I quit buying iPods because Apple was keeping the touch so feature poor. The current model, for instance, has a camera that’s less capable than a cheap $8.95 keychain camera. Disgusting. My best wishes to Samsung.

  4. “Apple enthusiasts may rightfully suggest that Samsung’s Galaxy Player doesn’t have a shot against the iPod touch because it will always lack Apple’s iTunes ecosystem — one of the reasons perhaps that Microsoft’s Zune player is dying a slow painful death.”

    Personally, I would qualify this statement a little more. The Zune music ecosystem is quite strong and far more user-friendly than iTunes. The music selection is very diverse, although not as big as iTunes. Plus, with Zune Pass, the all-you-can-listen subscription plan is a huge plus which iTunes has never even attempted (and the reason that I will not leave Zune even if the Samsung play takes off).

    I see the death of Zune originating from two points. First, MS did not court developers for apps for the Zune HD. This put the device well behind the capability of the iPod touch. Secondly, when MS decided to create a new phone OS, they failed to match app functionality with the Zune HD as well. Now the Zune HD is stuck with a very limited app ecosystem. That is why it will die.

    Apple’s success with iPod was having the iTunes music behind it. This capability has been met by several and surpassed by some. The continued success of the iPod touch is the app ecosystem. Samsung will at least come close to this with the Android Market. Actually being successful, though, will still be tough due to the strong “incumbent” nature of iPod.

  5. Competition is always good, will keep Apple honest about finally making some much needed improvements to the iPod Touch. I worry, however, that the market is already too saturated with PMP devices for Samsung to stand a chance.

    Yes, it has Android. Yes, it will have the Market behind it – but if you’re looking at one high-priced PMP, why would you ever pick the Galaxy Player over the more established iPod?


    http://www.techviva.com

  6. I am waiting impatiently for the 5″ player, hurry up would ya!

Comments have been disabled for this post