Samsung Brings Galaxy Tab to U.S. – Sans High Speed

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Samsung has officially announced that its iPad competitor, the Galaxy Tab, will be coming soon to all four of the major carriers in the U.S. Hitting all four carriers is a continuation of the strategy that Samsung employed with its Galaxy S phones, with a notable exception. Neither the Sprint model nor the T-Mobile model will incorporate those networks’ fastest network technologies. Missing are 4G/WiMAX (Sprint) and HSPA+ (T-Mobile), which would have been a golden opportunity for the Galaxy Tab to pass the popular iPad.

The Galaxy Tab should be the same model on all of the carriers, with carrier software customizations the primary difference. It’s a thin slate device with a 7-inch display (1024×600), 1 GHz processor, two cameras and GPS. The company hasn’t detailed pricing for the Tab, but each carrier will likely offer a subsidized price model with a two-year data contract. The Tab cannot make phone calls, so only a data plan will be required to have 3G connectivity on the go. The pricing for this plan will be determined by each carrier, which better compete with that of the iPad on AT&T. The monthly cost of this plan, along with the data cap (if any), will directly impact carrier sales of the Galaxy Tab, as will the subsidized purchase price.

A Wi-Fi only version of the Tab will be sold through select retailers around the time the carrier models are released. This model will not require a data plan, as it lacks 3G connectivity, and is aimed at those wishing to avoid a data contract. It won’t be price-subsidized, and will possibly be expensive at full price. The Galaxy Tab is much smaller than the iPad, so logic would dictate it should be cheaper than the Apple tablet.

Samsung is touting the front-facing camera for use with the Qik app for video calling; video calling will be restricted to Wi-Fi only, as is the case with Apple’s FaceTime on the iPhone. The iPad lacks a camera, so the Galaxy Tab goes one-up on the iPad by including one. Taking a page from Apple, Samsung will offer a keyboard dock for the Tab that makes it easier to create content; no pricing for the dock has been made available.

The Galaxy Tab looks to be a well-designed product that will set the bar for the Android tablet segment. It’s the first true competitor to the iPad, and it will be interesting to see consumer reaction to the Tab. Samsung missed an excellent opportunity to pass the iPad by not including 4G in the Tab. Perhaps this was due to carrier pressure to keep all four models similar in capability.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d): To Ship or Not to Ship — Product Launch in the Smartphone Era

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