Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab 3 line has been official for a little while now, but U.S. availability and pricing was up in the air until today. The relatively cheap tablets are going to be $199, $299 and $399 for the Galaxy Tab 7.0, 8.0 and 10.1, respectively, and will be available from retailers including Best Buy, Fry’s and Amazon beginning on July 7, with pre-orders starting tomorrow, June 25.
For those who aren’t familiar with these devices yet, the Tab 3 line comes in three size options, the 7.0 with a 7-inch 1024×600 display, the 8.0 with an 8-inch 12800×800 screen, and the 10.1 with a 10-inch 1280×800 display. Both the Tab 8.0 and the 10.1 get Android 4.2 and beefier processors, while the 7.0 runs Android 4.1 and has half the onboard storage with 8GB (though all are expandable via microSD).
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The full stats of each device are available at Samsung.com, but maybe the most interesting thing about them is that they exist at all. Samsung’s Galaxy line of tablets have never been iPad-level successes, and Samsung has since introduced the Note line of tablets, which seems to be where it’s focusing most of its innovation energy and R&D resources. So why bother continuing with the Tab line at all? Isn’t that just fracturing its potential buyer audience for any one tablet device?
Samsung offers its own answer in the announcement for these devices, citing Forrester research to justify its wide-ranging multi-model lineup. Samsung says that since Forrester has found that around half of those who own both a smartphone and a tablet opt to use the tablet to get online, and since people use tablets for a wide range of different activities, it follows that Samsung should offer a tablet perfectly tailored to each different use case. That’s not the same conclusion I’d draw, however; given the same information, I’d argue that building one or two tablets that cover the range of consumer needs would be a better play, but I’m not Samsung, and I’m not an undisputed leader in mobile electronics.
Samsung’s massively diverse product line was recently visualized by U.K. consumer electronics buying guide “Which?”, revealing not less than 26 sizes for Galaxy devices released over the past few years. But to me it looks less like an attempt to cover the gamut of buyer needs, and more like a way to block out the competition by occupying every available niche. Individually, Samsung’s products, especially in the tablet category, aren’t runaway successes; but taken together, they represent a wall of minor wins and customers won over; nearly every consumer want is addressed, even the contradictory ones.
And it’s working: Samsung’s tablet share has ground 283 percent over the last year and make up 17.9 percent of all shipments worldwide, according to IDC’s most recent numbers. Once, all mobile players were looking at simplifying their product lines to be more like Apple, but now Samsung is surging on a scattershot approach, and it has the resources and the momentum to keep at it for a while to come.