Samsung Mobile on Friday unveiled an upgraded 7-inch tablet in its product line. The company said the new Galaxy Tab 7 Plus will be introduced in Australia and Indonesia at the end of October, and gradually roll out to other markets thereafter.
The Galaxy Tab 7 Plus improves upon Samsung's original 7-inch model in several respects. For example, the new device will use Google's tablet-friendly Honeycomb release of Android 3.2, as opposed to the Android 2.2 platform for smartphones offered on Samsung's original 7-inch tablet.
Samsung has also replaced the dual-core 1 GHz Hummingbird processor in the original 7-inch model with a slightly faster 1.2 GHz dual-core chip. And the resolution of the front-facing camera has been upgraded from 1.3 megapixels to 2 megapixels, though the back-facing camera remains at 3 megapixels.
The new Galaxy Tab 7 Plus also sports TouchWiz, Samsung's full touch user interface for mobile devices. TouchWiz interacts with the device's built in accelerometer and gyroscope to detect motions in order to enable new panning and tilt features.
The display resolution of the new Galaxy Tab 7 Plus remains at 600x1024 pixels, and the buyer's memory options are unchanged at either 16GB or 32GB of storage. However, the Galaxy Tab 7 Plus does offer support for high-speed packet access plus (HSPA+), which means AT&T and T-Mobile will be able to seamlessly integrate the new device on their compatible networks.
More Than a Coincidence
The arrival of the Galaxy Tab 7 Plus on the heels of Amazon's Kindle Fire this week appears to be more than a coincidence. Like Toshiba with its rollout of the new 7-inch Thrive on Wednesday, Samsung appears to be making an effort to inform consumers that Kindle Fire alternatives are coming.
Samsung has not yet given a suggested retail price for the new Galaxy Tab 7 Plus. With the $199 to $499 price range having now been set by Amazon's Kindle Fire and Apple's iPad 2, however, Samsung will need to ensure that its new 7-inch model can be priced by wireless carriers and distributors somewhere in the middle.
Analysts expect consumer demand for Amazon's new tablet to have a significant effect on the shipment figures of rival Android tablet vendors. According to Gartner, Android-based tablet vendors are expected to collectively account for a 17.3 percent global market share -- dramatically down from the 28 percent estimate that the firm's analysts had projected earlier this year.
"The reduction would have been greater had it not been for the success of lower-end tablets in Asia, and the expectations around the launch of Amazon's tablet," Gartner's analysts said.
The Battle Ahead
The premiere of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7 Plus in Asia and Australia instead of North America or Europe may be an acknowledgment of the rough road ahead for the mobile device maker in developed markets during this year's holiday shopping season. Longer term, however, there is one way that Samsung may be able to rekindle American consumer interest in its Galaxy Tab product portfolio.
On Oct. 11, Samsung and Google also will be hosting a news conference at the CTIA wireless industry convention in San Diego, during which the two companies are slated to discuss "what's new from Android." The phrase suggests that Google's Android 4.0 platform, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, may be introduced at the event.
"Google will address the fragmentation of Android across smartphone and tablet form factors within the next Android release," said Gartner Research Vice President Carolina Milanesi. "Android can count on strong support from key OEMs, has a sizable developer community, and its smartphones application ecosystem is second only to Apple's."