Look out, iPad!
Samsung unveiled its long-awaited new tablet computer powered by Google's (GOOG) Android mobile operating system Thursday night, setting the stage for a fall showdown between the Galaxy Tab and Apple's (AAPL) wildly popular iPad.
"We think the product is going to do quite well," RBC Capital Market analyst Mark Sue tells DailyFinance. "If you look at the Android ecosystem, there's probably about 30 to 40 tablets being prepared for the market. We do think Samsung will have an advantage over the traditional PC makers because it has the early advantage of working with Android on its mobile phones, so it's farther ahead on the learning curve."
At the same time, Sue cautions that the tablet market is still quite nascent. "It's a very early market," Sue says. "It's tempting it to compare to the iPad, but it's not one versus the other there, because there going to be a lot of different Android devices. That said, the Galaxy Tab is probably the product to beat for now."
Samsung: Smaller is Better
Samsung didn't announce a suggested retail price for the Galaxy Tab, but industry analysts expect it to cost under $300 -- which would make it favorably competitive to the iPad, which costs $500 for the bare-bones version, all the way up to $900 for a deluxe model.
With a seven-inch screen size, the new device is smaller than the iPad, but fits in the palm of your hand. It features two-way video calling, web browsing and integrated messaging, all running on the latest Android version, 2.2, called Froyo.
"The form factor is elegant," Sue says. "There are a lot of size choices when it comes to tablets, and Samsung had the advantage of being the second player to launch a major tablet after the iPad, so I assume they did a lot of research."
It's important to remember that to date, Android has been used for mobile phones, and Google officials have said the operating system might not scale up to tablets or larger devices without some modification. Sue agrees, but isn't too concerned about the issue.
"It's still very early and they can't just take a cookie-cutter approach to Android, so there will be some reworking that needs to occur," Sue says. "But I would imagine that there are some very smart people at both Samsung and Google working on ways to optimize Android for tablet-size devices."
Samsung also introduced its new Content hub media library, which will allow users to download movies and TV shows from the major entertainment companies to play on their mobile Samsung devices.
The Galaxy Tab will be available on Verizon Wireless (VZ), Sprint Nextel (S), AT&T (T), and T-Mobile, a division of Deutsche Telecom (DTGEF). Samsung says the device will be available this fall, in time for the holiday shopping season.