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Competition beefs up between Samsung, Apple

Competition is beefing up between two global electronics rivals Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc. after the U.S.-based firm’s chief executive Steve Jobs singled out its competitors while launching the iPad 2 on Wednesday.

“Samsung put (a tablet) out last year,” said the 56-year-old CEO in his first public appearance since taking a medical leave on Jan. 17.

Then quoting Lee Young-hee, Samsung’s vice president of mobile marketing, he said, “As you heard, our sell-in (of the Galaxy Tab) was quite aggressive ... around 2 million. In terms of sell-out, we believe it was quite small.”

The problem was that Samsung Electronics had put out an official statement shortly after news reports were released involving Lee’s comment. The Seoul-based company claimed that what Lee meant was “quite smooth,” not “quite small.”

It further elaborated that there was an issue with the English pronunciation with Lee being a native Korean speaker.

A Samsung official said the company had no comments on what Jobs said in the event since it already released its statement in response to such reports on the firm’s official blog earlier on Feb. 1.

However, an industry source said that Jobs’ comments show that the global electronics giant is feeling strong competition from Samsung Electronics, the world’s No. 2 handset maker.

“If Samsung didn’t exist in the smartphone industry, it would be dominated by Apple,” said the source who wished to remain anonymous. “Considering that Apple could only be sensitive about the situation, Samsung has an upper hand -- such as chip and display technologies -- in the war of tablet PCs, which is being staged at the moment.”

Although still small in terms of figures compared to Apple’s iPad, Samsung had sold more than 2.5 million units of the Galaxy Tab by the end of February. Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads in 2010 since launching the device in April and analysts predict sales will top 30 million this year.

Samsung, however, has made public its determination to reach out further to grab a larger market share in the tablet industry. As an initial step, the company unveiled a 10-inch screen size Galaxy 10.1, an upgraded version of the 7-inch Galaxy Tab at the World Mobile Congress last month.

It also confirmed that it will launch a third tablet at another wireless trade show later this month, which will be equipped with an 8.9-inch display, according to its officials.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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