Samsung Mobile has struck a deal with American Airlines for premium passengers on selected transcontinental and transoceanic flights to use Samsung's newest Galaxy Tab as their in-flight entertainment hub. American plans to deploy 6,000 of the Samsung tablets on selected international flights and domestic U.S transcontinental flights beginning later this year.
The deal will help American enhance the in-flight experience for premium passengers. For Samsung, the agreement will boost its quest to familiarize traveling business executives with the entertainment and enterprise-ready capabilities of the new Galaxy Tab, which sports a 10.1-inch touchscreen.
Time is precious to an executive, so Samsung's deal is a natural fit for a captive audience like this, noted Gartner Vice President David Willis. "It's a good way to get their devices in the hands of both high-value customers and corporate influencers," he said.
A Good Marketing Technique
Samsung is trying to use the 'front-of-the-airplane' bias to its advantage, noted Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. "Executives who ride at the front of planes get a skewed perception of technology adoption," she explained. "First-class fliers see everyone with iPads and think everyone has one, but still less than five percent of U.S. consumers do."
She thinks Samsung's deal is a good marketing technique that gets outside the bottleneck of Best Buy, where there's lots of competition for consumers' attention. "But ultimately the product will need to speak for itself, and no Android tablet measures up to the iPad so far," she added.
Though American Airlines didn't say exactly when the Samsung tablet will be available to passengers, U.S. consumers will be able to purchase Samsung's new device beginning Friday. For Samsung Mobile, the new offering with a larger touchscreen is an opportunity to grow market share.
According to IDC, Samsung held 17 percent of the media tablet market during the fourth quarter of 2010, when the company's seven-inch Galaxy Tab was the only brand-name alternative to Apple's iPad. However, it will be tough for Samsung to retain the same level of market share this year due to the launch of the iPad 2 as well as a large number of rival offerings.
According to Gartner, some companies have already issued media tablets to business and IT leaders in the spirit of exploration, and some IT organizations have found new places where tablets can deliver information and media in new ways. "Businesses are finding that tablets are a favorite tool of some of their best people," Willis said.
Moving forward, the opportunities for tablet deployments in the enterprise space are huge, Willis observed. "Sales leaders are clamoring to adopt media tablets with their sales teams as a more engaging way to share sales collateral and promotional materials," he explained. "And it won't stop there."
Next to come will be customer relationship management systems, as well as order entry and sales-configuration applications, Willis predicted. "For sales managers, media tablets will be a natural platform for business analytics and performance dashboards," he said. "In other settings, the intimacy of using a media tablet supports more personal interactions."
One big problem Samsung faces is the skepticism that businesses still have about Google's Android platform and the Android Market, Willis noted. "Until somebody gains the trust of the enterprise, we'll see business customers staying with RIM or Apple," Willis said.