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Is Android Ready for Samsung’s New Tablet?

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Samsung will introduce a slate device running Google’s Android operating system this quarter, in an effort to capitalize on the tablet frenzy created by Apple’s iPad (s aapl). The Samsung tablet will use a 7-inch display, the company told Reuters, making the device smaller than the iPad, which uses a 9.7-inch screen. No additional details on the tablet are available, although UnwiredView found a reported picture of the slate, showing it to be similar to the iPad in design. Such a device faces immediate challenges, however, even though Samsung has a richer history of creating tablets than most other electronics companies.

In 2006, Samsung was among the first to create a 7-inch touchscreen tablet, the Q1. The ultra-mobile PC ran Microsoft Windows (s msft) using an Intel Celeron (s intc) processor and an 800 x 600 resolution screen. Samsung improved upon the original device with numerous new models that used higher resolution displays and more energy-efficient processors. Even after four years of selling tablets, Samsung hasn’t sold as many Q1 devices as the 3 million iPads Apple has sold since April of this year. But Samsung has experience building tablets, which could help it with a new slate this quarter.

Unfortunately, Android isn’t yet optimized for a tablet by Samsung, or anyone else for that matter. Froyo, the most current version of Android  just starting to roll out to existing handsets from carriers, is still limited to an 854 x 480 screen resolution. That’s fine for a smartphone or a tablet up to five inches in size, but larger displays won’t look as crisp with so few pixels spread out. Unless Samsung has access to a newer version of Android, such as Gingerbread, and that newer version supports higher resolutions, a 7-inch Android slate won’t provide an optimal end-user experience.

Another key problem Samsung faces is a lack of Android Market support on non-smartphone devices. Prior Android tablets haven’t had native access Android’s software ecosystem, which greatly reduces the appeal of a Android tablet, since most consumers want to buy apps. It’s possible that Google (s goog) is working with Samsung and others to modify what devices can access the Market, but currently, few non-phone devices have gained it. In cases like this, the tablet manufacturers have created their own pseudo-Market, but for an Android tablet to succeed in the mass market, it’s going to need native Market access.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (subscription required):

Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One

Image credit: UnwiredView

16 Responses to “Is Android Ready for Samsung’s New Tablet?”

  1. Jake Gilla

    I’m sorry, but it’s just going to be too expensive. To actually compete with Apple you have to hit them where they hurt, price.

    A Galaxy S Phone is $550 without a contract. There’s no way this tablet it going to be in the $300 to $400 range that it has to be in, and in reality should be below.

  2. markus wallett

    7 inch will be the sweet spot for tablet devices. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple release a smaller version of the Ipad in the coming years. The Samsung tablet looks an interesting device, but so too does Dell’s 7 inch Looking Glass tablet. Most people will use these devices to watch films and surf the net, so I think Android 2.2 will suffice.

  3. Comcastic

    R U kidding me ?
    Next to the iPad this looks like total crap. Android needs to step it up a notch if they really want to compete in the tablet space. This is definitely not a good start. Steve will sleep very well tonight. :-)

    • It is no longer about hardware, the battle is shifting to software+services and android has a good chance of winning a lot of customers(iOS is still better in software+service, but the gap is narrowing fast)

  4. Lorie Ghamy

    Another question Kevin :

    What about resolutions for the apps ? Classic iPhone sized AppS are not really Good on iPad : blurry rendering, menu and keys so big…..

    Is there too HD apps like for iPad ?

    Important for good user experience !

    Thanks to Share your feeling…

  5. Android tablets will be no good until Android 3.0 shows up on them – which makes the Motorola upcoming tablet the first real Android tablet.

    Notion Ink Adam has some potential, because they are also designing their own interface, but they still won’t have access to the Market, which is very bad.

  6. Ricktheprick

    Geeze. Don’t you think the Samsung folks know this stuff? I think they do, and I think they have, or will have, these things covered. Surely these people are at least as smart as you.

    • I hope you’re right and we’ll see in less than two months. Personally, I’d love to be wrong and see a high-resolution Android tablet from Samsung by September. But I’ve seen numerous companies try to run with Android on a tablet only to have a mediocre product (at best) that’s too limited. Some of them — ARCHOS comes to mind — figured they could house Android apps in their own market, but that hasn’t worked either. As I said… I hope you’re right although Samsung made some poor decisions with the Q1 UMPCs too.

      • Archos 7 has sold more than any other archos device in the past(check top ranked Archos products in If a crappy product like that can so well, I can only imagine Samsung Android tablet to sell better. Samsung tablet will be atleast 5 times better than Archos 7.

    • bluespapa

      Naw, Kevin’s smarter than those guys, which is why Samsung’s most recent Q1 iteration was a giant step backward, and a commercial dud. Samsung’s experience as a handset maker doesn’t transfer to all their years of making tablets because even that didn’t transfer into marketing them. As a handset maker, they let the carriers do the marketing. If they take the same approach I they’ll be sitting on a bunch of Android tablets next to the pile of Windows UMPCs.

      Their latest devices still have XP and Vista, for heaven’s sake.

      @ Ben, the highest selling Archos on Amazon doesn’t make it high selling.