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Samsung seeks to challenge Apple’s iPad

Samsung Electronics looks to challenge Apple in the nascent tablet PC market with an aggressive marketing plan.

An industry source told The Korea Herald that the company plans to launch the tentatively named sPad in August and sell hundreds of thousands of units at competitive prices.

The plan is aimed at taking a lead in the domestic market before Apple’s hugely popular iPad arrives in Korea as early as the third quarter of the year.

Samsung will roll out the devices via SK Telecom, the nation’s top mobile carrier, said the source.
An Apple Inc. iPad tablet computer is held by an Apple employee at the store in London, U.K., on Thursday, May 27, 2010. (Bloomberg)
An Apple Inc. iPad tablet computer is held by an Apple employee at the store in London, U.K., on Thursday, May 27, 2010. (Bloomberg)

The sPad will run on Google’s Android operating system and initially feature a 7-inch touchscreen, the high-ranking industry official said on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the matter. Samsung will add an 8-icnh model in October and a 10-inch model in December, he added.

“Samsung and SK Telecom plan to launch an aggressive sales drive for the sPad,” he said.

Samsung declined to comment on the release date and other details of the sPad.

KT, the No. 2 mobile operator, which exclusively sells the iPhone in Korea, reportedly plans to launch the iPad in Korea by the end of this year.

Samsung is striving to catch up with Apple in the smartphone market, even on its home turf, and to prevent a repeat in the tablet category. Apple’s iPhone sales have surpassed 700,000 units just six months of its introduction in Korea.

Many analysts doubt, however, whether Samsung will be able to lure customers away from the iPad given a dearth of content, which is key in the larger-screen device.

Google’s Android Market lags far behind Apple’s App Store in terms of the number and variety of applications available, especially ones for entertainment/ebook devices. Apple said on Monday that there are over 5,000 applications for the iPad, which will also run almost all of the more than 200,000 applications from the App Store, including apps already purchased for iPhones or iPod Touches.

“I expect the iPad to have the upper hand in content. In terms of hardware, the screen size of the sPad is somewhat small,” Choi Nam-kon, an analyst at Tong Yang Investment Bank, said. The iPad features a 9.7 inch touch screen.

“The iPad is a proven model. Given that the sPad is not yet proven, it is not even a matter for discussion which one is better,” he said.

The iPad is surging in popularity, with its international sales surpassing 2 million units in less than 60 days of its launch, Apple’s announced Monday.

A number of PC and handset makers including LG Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Nokia are expected to jump into the tablet PC market with devices mostly powered by the Android operating system.

The global media tablet market is expected to jump six-fold by 2014, according to recent data from IDC. The market research firm forecast on May 20 that worldwide media tablet shipments will grow from 7.6 million units in 2010 to more than 46 million units in 2014.

“These are early days for media tablets, an altogether new device category that takes its place between smartphones and portable PCs. IDC expects consumer demand for media tablets to be strongly driven by the number and variety of compatible third-party apps for content and services,” noted Susan Kevorkian, program director, Digital Marketplace: Mobile Media & Entertainment.

By Jin Hyun-joo   (