Tab battle is all about thinness, cost

아이패드2 vs 갤탭8.9 '태블릿대전' 개막

Mar 24,2011
When he introduced the iPad 2, Apple’s newest tablet PC, earlier this month, CEO Steve Jobs mocked that 2011 will be the “year of the copycats.”

He was referring, of course, to products coming off the assembly lines of rival companies like Samsung Electronics, LG and Motorola, which are also betting big stakes on tablets.

Copycats they may be, but it appears that at least one of them has managed to raise the bar. Samsung Electronics has introduced a tablet that’s thinner and lighter than the iPad 2 - qualities heavily touted by Apple.

Less than a month after the iPad 2’s debut, the competition is already fierce over who can produce tablets that will catch on with consumers.

For consumers, the fast developments are tantalizing. But when will we see these products in stores? And what will be their price tag?

Here’s a roundup of the Battle of the Tabs.

Incredible shrinking tabs

Samsung Electronics, the world’s No. 2 manufacturer of mobile phones, introduced its newest tablet PCs - one featuring an 8.9-inch screen and another a 10.1-inch screen - at CTIA 2011 in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday morning local time.

The Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 follow the company’s first-generation 7-inch Galaxy Tab, which was unveiled last September.

After Jobs’ jab, Samsung didn’t bother defending itself, abiding by its policy of “not commenting about rival companies.” But the company has defended itself quite well with the technology it has come up with.

The Galaxy Tabs 8.9 and 10.1 are the world’s thinnest tablet PCs, both measuring 8.6 millimeters, or 0.2 millimeters thinner than the iPad 2. They weigh 470 grams and 595 grams, respectively, at least 18 grams lighter than the iPad 2.

The Tab 10.1 was first unveiled at the Mobile World Congress last month in Barcelona, Spain. In a scant few weeks, it was slimmed down from a thickness of 10.9 millimeters to 8.6 millimeters.

Samsung officials say the company had the technology ready to be applied in its research lab. Omar Khan, chief product officer of Samsung’s mobile division, told reporters that the company’s philosophy was that “it’s not going to be outdone.”

LG Electronics, the world’s No. 3 mobile phone maker, is also aggressively promoting its latest tablet PC, the Optimus Pad, at the CTIA. Optimus Pad, named G-Slate in the North American market, was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

LG officials say its 8.9-inch display is “the best for both mobility and readability,” adding that it will rapidly roll out Optimus tablets of different sizes to give consumers more choices.

Price and availability

Which of these devices will be the first to hit stores in Korea?

Time-wise, the iPad 2 will beat the Galaxy Tabs and the Optimus Pad. Apple announced yesterday that it will offer the iPad 2 in Korea next month. Koreans won’t be able to buy the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1 until June at the earliest, according to officials. LG said it will roll out Optimus Pad in Korea sometime in the second quarter.

But there is a new variable in the tablet PC wars: the Japanese earthquake and temporary closures at Japanese companies that produce key components for tablet PCs.

Apple, Samsung and LG all rely heavily on Japanese firms for parts and materials. But due to Apple’s intense control of not just contractors but subcontractors as well, closures at just a few of them could hurt its overall supply chain, analysts say.

In contrast Samsung and LG adopt what’s called a multivendor system, in which contractors can freely chose their subcontractors.

Pricing was also thought to be a lucky charm for the iPad 2. It will cost $499, just like its predecessor. It appears Samsung and LG will also go with the flow of the iPad 2. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 are reported to be either in a similar price range or cheaper. LG says it’s not sure yet how much the Optimus will cost in Korea, but T-Mobile, one of its vendors in the U.S., has said it will be sold for $529.99.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

두께 8.6㎜ 무게 470g…갤럭시탭의 반격

북미 CTIA 2011서 ‘8.9’ ‘10.1’ 신모델 동시 공개 … 아이패드2보다 0.2㎜ 얇아

이달 2일 애플 최고경영자(CEO)인 스티브 잡스는 특별히 삼성전자를 지목해 ‘카피캣(Copycat, 흉내쟁이)’이라고 조롱했다. 애플이 만들어놓은 태블릿PC 시장에 삼성이 갤럭시탭으로 무임승차했다는 비난이었다.

삼성전자는 그러나 어떤 반론도 내놓지 않았다. 18일 주주총회에서도 최지성 삼성전자 부회장은 애플에 뒤지는 이유를 묻는 주주에게 “애플은 지난해 기준 우리 제1의 고객사다. 공개적으로 제1거래선에 대해 언급하는 것은 주주 이익에도 부합하지 않는다”고 언급을 삼갔다.

삼성은 대신 시장에서 제품으로 승부하겠다는 전략으로 나섰고, 마침내 애플 아이패드2의 바람을 잠재우기 위한 태블릿PC 진용을 공개했다.

22일(한국시간) 미국 올랜도에서 막을 올린 북미 최대 통신전시회 ‘CTIA2011’ 자리에서다. 아이패드2의 대항마로 개발한 전략 태블릿 ‘갤럭시탭 10.1’과 ‘갤럭시탭 8.9’ 2종을 한꺼번에 내놓은 것이다.

이번에 발표한 갤럭시탭 10.1은 지난달 스페인에서 공개한 10.1 모델에서 한층 진보했다. 10.1인치와 8.9인치 두 모델 모두 두께가 기존 7인치 갤럭시탭은 물론 아이패드2보다 슬림하다. 잡스의 조롱을 되받아치듯 훨씬 얇게 만들어 선보였다. 현재까지 나온 태블릿 가운데 가장 얇다. 무게 또한 아이패드보다 가볍다.

이날 공개 행사에 참석한 삼성전자 무선사업부장 신종균 사장은 “삼성 모바일 DNA를 집약해 기존 태블릿의 한계를 넘어선 휴대성과 이동성을 구현했다는 점이 특징”이라며 “더 얇고, 더 가볍고, 더 빠른 갤럭시탭을 경험하게 될 것”이라고 말했다.

두 제품 모두 구글의 최신 태블릿용 안드로이드 운영체제(OS)인 허니콤에 1㎓ 듀얼 코어 애플리케이션 프로세스를 탑재해 속도 면에서도 아이패드2와 겨룰 만하다는 자신감을 내비쳤다.

문제는 시장의 반응이다. 특히 가격이 승부의 분수령이다. 애플은 아이패드2 16GB(기가바이트) 모델을 기존과 같은 499달러에 내놓으면서 시장 반응이 예상치를 넘어섰다는 분석이 대세다. 모토로라는 태블릿 신제품인 줌(XOOM)을 미국에서 애플보다 먼저 799달러에 출시했다가 아이패드2의 저렴한 가격에 놀라 가격 조정을 검토하고 있다. 업계에서는 삼성이 갤럭시탭 신제품을 아이패드2와 맞먹거나 더 저렴한 가격에 내놓을 것으로 예상하고 있다.

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