New Android Devices From Samsung Are A Smaller Take On Tablets


Undeterred by legal challenges and the tepid response to its initial tablet efforts, Samsung doubled down on the category Thursday by getting smaller. Two new Android tablets made their debut at the IFA show in Germany accompanied by a rarity in the Android world: an iPod Touch-like Wi-Fi media player.

The two new tablets are the Galaxy 7.7 and the Galaxy Note, which is a cross between a big smartphone and a small tablet with its 5.3-inch screen. Samsung actually wanted to call the Galaxy Note “a new category of product” in its press release, but given that Dell already introduced and subsequently canceled the 5-inch Android-based Dell Streak–and the pen stylus that accompanies the Note is a throwback to the first generation of tablet devices a decade ago–it’s hard to see where Samsung is coming from with that claim.

The devices do represent Samsung’s decision to try some different things as it attempts to do what no other Android tablet maker has done: duplicate their success in handsets in the tablet market. Samsung has already launched the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 this year running on the Honeycomb version of Google’s Android software, the first version that was designed for tablets. But even though it’s quite early in the evolution of this market, there are no signs that consumers are responding to those devices, and until pricing and availability are announced for the new tablets, it’s equally hard to know how they will fare.

One thing the new tablets will likely not do is prompt further legal challenges from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), who is currently suing Samsung all over the planet with regards to the design of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Apple has yet to deviate from the 9.7-inch screen used on the iPad and iPad 2.

An interesting item in the flurry of Samsung product releases was the Galaxy WiFi 3.6, about which very little was mentioned beyond this description: “a powerful multimedia player which runs on *Google* Android.” Although Android phones have been quite successful, no one has really managed to sell something akin to Apple’s iOS-bearing iPod Touch, basically a phone-less iPhone. Such devices are attractive to parents who don’t want to give their kids a cell phone, but are willing to spend a similar amount of money on something that can entertain the kids. Sony (NYSE: SNE) launched something similar at IFA this week with an Android-powered Walkman.

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