Samsung yesterday held an event to mark the official launch of its Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, which it hopes will help set it apart from rivals such as Apple's iPad thanks to key features such as a stylus-type pen and split-screen function
The Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet has picked up positive early reviews from tech bloggers impressed with the S-Pen's writing and sketching performance and the tablet's ability to have two apps active on a split-screen.
The South Korean firm, which Apple accuses of copying the design and some features of its iPad and iPhone, has priced the new tablet at $499 for 16GB of memory and Wi-Fi-only, the same as the iPad - leaving analysts doubting its impact.
"When you look at the price and overall consumer awareness about Samsung tablets, it's not likely to be a big success," said Park Young, an analyst at Woori Investment and Securities in Seoul.
"Tablets are getting cheaper and even Apple is rumored to be preparing a cheaper iPad. Consumers also tend not to spend much on tablets any more as smartphones can do most of the entertainment functions that tablets offer."
Samsung has emphasised how the Note 10.1 is a "game changer" from rival tablets, which are primarily used to consume media - highlighting the device's ability to personalise and create.
At Wednesday's launch event in New York, "Moulin Rouge" movie director Baz Luhrmann and fashion designer Zac Posen were on hand to demonstrate how they use the S-Pen stylus in their work.
The US debut of the Galaxy Note 10.1, which uses Google's Android software, comes just three months after the second version of Samsung's flagship Galaxy Tab 10.1 went on sale in May. In the coming months, Samsung is also expected to unveil a new tablet running on Microsoft's new Windows operating system.
While Apple has a single 9.7in iPad line-up, Samsung offers a range of products of different sizes - from 7.7in to 8.9in and 10.1in - and late last year created the hybrid phone-cum-tablet, or phablet, category with the 5.3in Note, which has sold more than 10 million units since October. A revamped version of the Note smartphone is expected to be unwrapped in Berlin late this month.
Samsung hopes the Galaxy Note 10.1 can help it narrow the gap with Apple in tablet markets, where it remains a distant second to the Cupertino, California-based firm. Apple sold 28.8 million iPads in the January to June period, giving it 64.4 per cent of the market, well ahead of Samsung's sales of 4.4 million tablet models and 9.9 per cent market share, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.
The new Note 10.1 boasts a quad-core processor with 1.4 GHz clock speed, and comes with a 5 megapixel rear camera and 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera, which also detects the user's eye movements to prevent the device from going into standby mode.
The 32GB model will sell for $549, versus iPad's $599.
A US judge on Wednesday asked for the chief executives of Apple and Samsung to speak to each other before a jury begins deliberating next week in the high-stakes patent trial between the two tech titans.
In Seoul on Thursday, Samsung shares closed unchanged at 1.345 million won ($1,200) in a market down 0.05 per cent. Shares in Apple closed down 0.1 percent on Nasdaq on Wednesday.
($1 = 1129.6500 Korean won)
(Additional reporting by Sinead Carew)
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