By: Hillel Fuld
And it begins. The same thing all over again. Apple releases a game-changing completely closed product and the rest of the companies, with Google leading the pack, try to play Catch.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the first major tablet to compete in this space, and while initial reviews are overwhelmingly positive, the Tab is going to have a difficult task of taking on the Apple giant.
The following are five reasons the Samsung Galaxy Tab will be met with a fierce opponent in its battle against the iPad:
- App Fragmentation: This is going to be the most significant challenge for the Samsung Galaxy Tab and any future Android tablet. The Android Market is already a mess and developers of Android apps have to create multiple versions of their app to support the many different Android headsets on the market. We are talking different screen sizes, different processing abilities, and most importantly, different versions of the Android OS. The Tablet market will magnify this problem. Anyone who has tried an iPad with an iPhone app knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Taking an app that is optimized for a 3.5′ screen, or in Android’s case, sometimes a 4′ screen, and using it on a 7′ display is going to look bad and not work properly in most cases. While Apple has created an ecosystem that is watched and maintained strictly enough to be able to create the iPad App Store, the Android Market, in all its glorified openness, is too much of a mess to pull this off in its current state. It is unclear how Google intends to overcome this issue, but if users are going to be have the standard Android Market apps for their Android tablets, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab as well as any future Android tablets do not stand a chance of even competing.
- Big Phone/Small Tablet: One of my initial concerns when opening my iPad for the first time was defining the device and figuring out how I was going to use it. It wasn’t long before I realized that using a case that props the iPad up on an angle ideal for typing, I was to use the iPad mostly as a laptop replacement with the exception of Skype video calling and the occasional long document or spread sheet.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab, with its 7′ display is too big to use as a smartphone, which it is, since it makes phone calls, and too small for a tablet. Knowing Apple, the decision to go with a 9.7′ display was something they put months or even years of thought into. Knowing Samsung, the release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab went something like this: CEO: “Oh, Apple is selling iPads like hot cakes? OK, let’s make one too. How does 7′ sound?” Engineer” OK, I will get to work, should be ready in a month”. Time will tell if 7′ will be small enough to use the Samsung Galaxy Tab as a phone or big enough to use it as a computer, but I am pessimistic on both counts.
- Screen Resolution: The only thing I see killing the iPad any time soon is the iPhone 4. I have read about countless people who sold their iPad after starting to use the iPhone 4. It was not Facetime that did it, and it was not the two cameras either, although I am not sure what Apple was thinking leaving those out of the iPad. The reason the iPhone 4 is embarrassing its big brother is its industry-leading Retina display.
I truly believe that had the Samsung Galaxy Tab been released with a display that outdoes the iPad’s significantly, it would have meant war. Instead, the Samsung Galaxy Tab has a 1024×600 compared to the 1024×768 on the Apple tablet. Now, this does give the Tab more pixel density, and an easier resolution for using the tablet as a smartphone in portrait mode, but it is not enough to even be considered as a candidate for the iPad competitor role.
- No Wifi Version: This was yet another bad call by Samsung, Google, or whoever it is that makes these decisions when it comes to Android devices. While some people, myself included like to have 3G connectivity on their tablet device, for every iPad 3G owner I know, I have at least 5 friends that own the Wifi version. Most people want freedom from their provider. Maybe that is why 3G laptops never really took off.
Whatever the case may be, Apple got it right by offering users two options, whereas the Samsung Galaxy Tab only comes in a 3G version, which also has Wifi, but comes with a contract from the cellular provider. At the end of the day, despite the Samsung Galaxy Tab’s ability to make calls, its 7′ display is pushing it when it comes to holding the device up to your face without looking a little strange.
In fact, the Dell Streak’s 5′ display was pushing it, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is complete overkill if you are using it as a phone. I am pretty convinced that the lack of a Wifi alone version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a missed opportunity to sell to the large community of evangelists who support Google for its openness and freedom. How ironic is it that Apple is giving users the choice to buy a device with no strings attached and Google is tying you down with a contract?
- Undefined Entity: This point is a sort of summary of the above four points. When the iPad was released, the main concern people had was “Isn’t it just a big iPod Touch?” This question was soon answered with the iPad-optimized apps that provide a completely different and superior experience to that of an iPhone/iPod Touch. However, when it comes to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the question of what the device really is or what purpose it serves stands strong. Is it a smartphone? A 7′ phone? Is it a laptop? A 7′ laptop with a cellular contract? This lack of definition or identity will ultimately prevent the Samsung Galaxy Tab from taking off the way the iPad did.
In conclusion, I would just like to clarify that based on the initial reviews, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is one heck of an impressive device with truly amazing specs. Samsung can rest assured they will sell millions to the hardcore Android community along with the Apple haters and the people who need ultra portability. Having said that, if they had put just a little more thought into the small details, the Samsung Galaxy Tab had the potential to become, yes I am going to use the term we all hate so much, a true iPad Killer.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these points? Do you think I am way off or spot on? Please let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter here.