Samsung goes where Apple won't

Samsung is the first top-tier manufacturer to come out with a 7-inch Android tablet in the U.S. Is Steve Jobs missing a market opportunity?

PALO ALTO, CALIF.--The Samsung Galaxy Tab has found a sweet spot the Apple iPad will miss--apparently.

Steve Jobs was wrong: a 7-inch diagonal is fine. Samsung Galaxy Tab on right.
Steve Jobs was wrong: a 7-inch diagonal is fine. Samsung Galaxy Tab on right. CNET Reviews

I'm writing this on Wednesday during a brief sojourn in Silicon Valley. I had some time to burn so I spent about 30 minutes using the Galaxy Tab at a local Best Buy. Granted, that isn't a long time by product review standards, but it was long enough for me to realize that I was hooked on the size.

Let me be clear, I have no gripes about the 10-inch screen on the iPad (which, by the way, I use all the time and frighteningly at the expense of my MacBook Air--but that's another post for another day).

And I'll confess that I have a bias for small, light designs: the smaller and lighter, the better. To a point. Seven inches is that point. Without descending into tedious punditry about the merits of a 7-inch design, suffice to say that it just feels better in my hand and the screen size is more than adequate. And on-screen typing presented no problem for me.

In fact, if Apple came out with a 7-inch iPad, I can say with pretty much certainty that I would be in line to buy one (and I think that would be a long line on product launch day). That said, Steve Jobs has already apparently precluded that possibility, proclaiming--as I have touched on before--that Apple isn't interested in offering a 7-inch model.

Is this a giant opportunity for the Android camp? We'll see of course. A preliminary report claims that the Galaxy Tab is not exactly flying off the shelves--what Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw, has characterized as the Galaxy's "poor sell through." In the U.S., that may be partially due to the reluctance to buy a tablet with Android apps that are not yet ready for a larger screen, as this CNET review says. But it's more likely due to price--the Galaxy Tab is not cheap--and to consumers being unfamiliar with any device that's not an iPad. Something akin to the I-want-nothing-but-an-iPhone-4 syndrome. Plus, not all reviews have been favorable.

But Motorola, HTC, Dell, HP, and others would be well advised to follow Samsung's lead with similarly sized tablets. Sorry, Mr. Jobs, I think you're wrong on this one.

Featured Video

Your phone's screen is ruining your sleep

Staring at your Phone's screen might be hazardous for your sleep, unless you change the color temperature. Sharon Profis explains on "You're Doing It All Wrong."

by Sharon Profis