Samsung Mobile said Monday that it will be releasing a new version of its 7-inch tablet called the Galaxy Tab 2, which will run Android 4, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich, and is expected to retail for $350.
The company has not announced the suggested pricing for the HSPA+ model. It expects to ship both models in March.
Although the Galaxy Tab 2 will be running the latest version of Google's Android, a comparison of the new device's specs with those of the Galaxy Tab 7.7 released last September shows that the new model will have less-capable features than the previous model.
Partly Offense, Partly Defense
For example, the new Galaxy Tab 2 will integrate a 1 GHz dual-core processor and front-facing VGA camera in place of the higher speed 1.4 GHz dual core chip and a 2-megapixel camera featured in the original Galaxy Tab 7.7 tablet.
The new model will have a conventional TFT screen instead of the prior AMOLED display and offer 1024x600-pixel resolution as opposed to the higher definition 1280x800p capabilities offered by the Galaxy Tab 7.7.
"Samsung's new Tab 2 is partly offensive and partly defensive," said Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston. "Samsung is launching a new 7-inch model to attack the high-growth 7-inch tablet market [and] defend against the threat posed by rival lower-cost models from Amazon, Nook and others."
Building a Multi-Tier Product Portfolio
According to Strategy Analytics, Android tablet shipments tripled to 10.5 million units in last year's fourth quarter. The launch of dozens of new models by Amazon, Asus, Barnes & Noble, Samsung and others helped Google's Android platform capture a record 39 percent share of global tablet shipments in last year's fourth quarter, a 29 percent rise from the year-earlier period, Mawston observed last month.
The Galaxy Tab 2 will initially launch in the United Kingdom during March and in other world markets thereafter. Within the European market overall -- where Amazon's Kindle Fire is not yet a major threat -- Samsung's main competition is coming from cheaper tablets made by Chinese manufacturers.
Though this helps to account for the new Galaxy Tab 2's lower-priced components, it would be a lot better if Samsung Mobile worked on its tablet ecosystem rather than the price, said Francisco Jeronimo, a research manager at IDC.
"They need to attract more developers to [encourage them] to create more apps rather than rely on Android Market," Jeronimo said in a Monday phone interview.
Still, Mawston believes that if Samsung wants to be a top-ranked player in the UK and European tablet market, then it will also need to build a multi-tier product portfolio that addresses all segments from the entry level to the high end.
"Samsung will need to downscale and upscale its portfolio over time, so that it offers tablets for all segments, from power users to casual users," Mawston said in an e-mail Monday.
The Galaxy Tab 2 will offer a new content-sharing service available for the first time on any Samsung mobile device. Called AllShare Play, the new service will enable Galaxy Tab 2 users to play or live-stream multimedia from PCs, other Samsung smart devices and third-party web storage services.
With Samsung AllShare Play, tablet users also will gain the ability to transfer content to other devices or directly to Web services. Still, the lower resolution of the new tablet's screen means that high-definition 1080p content will not be displayed at full resolution.
Like the Galaxy Tab 7.7, the Galaxy Tab 2 will provide access to Samsung's hub services, which provides direct access to games, e-books, music and other multimedia content. However, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 also integrates universal remote control functionality covering the entire home entertainment center -- from the TV and set-top box to the DVD or Blu-ray player and surround sound audio system.