With the patent war rumbling on between all sides in the race for smartphone and tablet supremacy, one story has really hit the headlines: Apple’s struggle to get the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 off of retailers’ shelves. So what is apple so worried about?
In the smartphone market, Apple is watching its worldwide market leader position – only just taken from Nokia – being eroded, fast, by Samsung. Its head start in the touchscreen market, as well as its market leading App Store, isn’t going to stop a larger range of devices (across several operating systems and price points) get Samsung into top spot.
The last thing Apple wants to see is Samsung do the same trick with tablet PCs – the first step of which is going to happen this month with the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Its predecessor, the Galaxy Tab, was a poor device which hardly made a splash. But Apple certainly fears its 10-inch big brother.
Once again, in tablets, Apple got a bit of a head start. Its developers took to the format fast, making a slew of tablet specific apps available and taking a clear lead in the field from the beginning. The iPad opened people’s eyes, and then the iPad 2 opened their wallets. But once all the Apple fan boys have their iPads, the rest of us need to be won over. A quick look at the specs shows that apple now has a fight on its hands – one it may well lose on the high street if it loses first in the courts over its claims that Samsung ‘slavishly copied’ its design.
Both devices have similar quality touchscreens, at a similar size. Samsung’s device is a little lighter and a tiny bit thinner, while also being widescreen. Otherwise, as the patent battle implies, the looks are pretty similar. It’s a close run thing on processors too, with dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9s on both sides.
Android vs Apple in the app department is becoming a moot point. Android certainly needs more tablet specific applications, but they’re on their way. Otherwise, with hundreds of thousands of apps each, neither OS is going to gain much traction by bragging just how many it has – we’ve reached saturation as far as these huge numbers are concerned.
Elsewhere, the Android starts to pull ahead. Twice as much RAM (1GB vs 512MB), much better camera, Java support – all things it looks as if Samsung will stay ahead on going forward, not to mention HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson etc. The come back is on.
Right now, Apple’s iPad 2 still holds the high ground – just. Its improvements over its predecessor outweigh Samsungs, leaving Apple with a stable and impressive device just ahead of Samsungs more powerful but still slightly wet-behind-the-ears challenger.
But as warning shots across the bows go, this is a very strong one from Samsung – and as Apple has seen in the smartphone market, when Samsung gets this close it’s only going to get better. With Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO of Apple, his successor Tim Cook may well have his work cut out to keep the technology giant ahead in the tablet war.
This post was contributed by Chris Marling, who writes for Broadband Genie, the online consumer portal where you can go to compare internet providers and find the latest choices in netbooks, tablets and smartphones.