Samsung revealed several new tablets today at Mobile World Congress. The Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1), the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0), and the Galaxy Note 10.1. With these additions, Samsung has a lineup of three 10.1” devices, three 7”, a 7.7”, and a 8.9”. This is a large number of SKUs for little differentiation. With such little differentiation, I wonder what Samsung’s strategy may be.
The Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) is not a significant step forward for the Korea manufacturer that has recently been known for its appealing designs. Some would argue it is a step back. The form factor is thicker and the weight a little heavier. These are two factors I personally focus on in my tablet buying decision.
The thicker form factor and heavier weight is due to a slightly larger battery. Although it is clear consumers put a lot of attention on battery life, what is the tradeoff for the extra hour or two? The processor has not changed, nor has the resolution, memory, or really anything else for that matter. The front-facing camera quality has actually decreased from a 2MP camera to a VGA camera. The one nice upgrade is Android 4.0, but that is something that we would expect on any high-end device at this point.
So then if the processor hasn’t been upgraded from the 1GHz dual-core in the original model and it has actually taken a step back in terms of form-factor, what is Samsung doing? It appears as though they may be addressing another segment of consumers with a lower-priced device. With rumors of Apple coming out with a quad-core iPad 3, it is unlikely Samsung plans to compete head-to-head on the $500 price point. Perhaps these versions will address the largely untapped sub-$450 market. Our Tablet Regional Sales and Value by Price Tier Forecast: 2010-2015 shows this market is currently only 32.5% of the market but is expected to grow to 64.5% by 2015.
The Galaxy Note 10.1, on the other hand, appears to be the one focusing on the high-end consumer market. With a faster, 1.4GHz dual-core processor, multi-screen capability, and the ability to take notes with its stylus, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is definitely a step forward. It also has the increased battery performance in the original, slim designed package and original 2MP front camera.
So will Samsung's strategy to bifurcate the high-end and mid-tier market work? Time will tell but right now there are a lot of SKUs with very similar, and not very catchy names. Samsung is giving consumers plenty of choices but will they be confused? Isn’t the second generation of a device usually a step up? The range of sizes is great but I think Samsung needs to clarify their branding strategy.