Korean electronics giant Samsung has confirmed mobile brand Vodafone will exclusively sell the next iteration of its flagship Galaxy Tab tablet line when it launches locally in the second quarter of the calendar year, although its Galaxy S II handset will be sold through every major local carrier.
When the company launched irs existing 7” Galaxy Tab model in Australia last year, it did so with the support of all of Australia’s local telcos – Telstra, Optus and VHA, which operates the Vodafone and ‘3’ brands.
However, at a press briefing in Sydney this morning, Samsung Australia’s director of its telecommunications division, Josh Delgado, confirmed the 10” Galaxy Tab 10.1 unveiled overnight at the Mobile World Congress conference in Spain would be exclusive to Vodafone, with the tablet to launch locally “probably early quarter two” – that is, after March. Pricing for the device — and other handsets unveiled this morning — has not yet been disclosed.
Delgado said the Vodafone exclusivity deal had been signed globally – noting such arrangements were driven strongly by the situation in Europe, where Vodafone has a strong presence in countries such as the UK. “We don’t often get tied to Vodafone,” he told journalists, but said it did happen sometimes.
The Vodafone brand operated by VHA has been under siege in Australia for the past several months, with thousands of consumers registering complaints about dropouts, delays and blackspots on its Vodafone network. The issues have culminated in a class action lawsuit being considered against the company by law firm Piper Alderman.
Delgado said he understood the brand had had some issues lately, but Samsung was confident it could deliver. “Do we have any concerns? Not particularly,” he said.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is one of the first devices to be released running version 3.0 of the Android platform, which has been re-designed for the tablet form factor, in competition with the device currently dominating the local and global tablet markets — Apple’s iPad. The demo unit available in Sydney this morning was not fully functional, although basic web browsing and user interface functions did work as expected.
The Tab 10.1 will also feature a dual-core 1GHz CPU, providing grunt for the 10.1″ screen, running at a resolution of 1280×800 (WXGA). At 599 grams, the device will be lighter than Apple’s equivalent 3G iPad, and it supports access to Australia’s major mobile networks at HSPA+ (21Mbps) speeds.
However, Samsung has partnered more widely on its next flagship handset, the Galaxy S II, also unveiled in Spain. The device’s predecessor, the Galaxy S, initially launched on Optus in Australia in mid-2011 before broadening its telco reach, with Samsung selling more than 10 million units worldwide, and “hundreds of thousands” in Australia, according to Delgado.
“We’re going to launch it with everyone,” the executive said of the Galaxy S II, noting that the device would hit Australia locally “probably no later than June”.
The device features a 480×800 Super AMOLED Plus screen, a 1GHz dual-core CPU, version 2.3 (Gingerbread) of the Android operating system, 8 megapixel rear and 2 megapixel front cameras, and a slew of other features — such as support for 21Mbps HSPA speeds on 3G mobile networks.
In 2010, Australia’s smartphone market was swamped with dozens of new Android-based handsets, with brands like HTC and Samsung making a significant splash in the space for the first time and others like LG, Sony Ericsson and even Huawei also pushing.
“2010 was the first year that Samsung really became relevant in the smartphone space,” Delgado said this morning. “We are well advanced in our goal to become the number two smartphone manufacturer in Australia by the end of 2010.”
Samsung also demonstrated a number of other devices at its launch – with models like the Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Fit, Galaxy Gio and Galaxy mini being unveiled at Mobile World Congress. However, it remains unclear precisely how the diverse range – which feature lesser specifications than the Galaxy S II – will be sold in Australia.
“If we’re going to reach number two, it’s going to be on the back of our Galaxy handsets,” said Delgado.
One area which the company will be targeting in Australia in 2011 is the corporate market, which has traditionally been dominated by companies like Research in Motion, but which is increasingly being targeted by Apple and other smartphone vendors. “We’re going to attack the enterprise space this year – we’ve got a small but growing team locally,” said Delgado.
The executive was also asked for his thoughts about what might perhaps best be described as the “elephant in the room” in the global mobile sector at the moment – Nokia’s deal announced last week to bring Microsoft’s fledgling Windows Phone 7 operating system to its handsets in place of its own Symbian offering. Nokia has been losing ground for some time in the smartphone space – and is aiming to bring itself back up to speed with the Microsoft partnership.
“Of course we do have some thoughts — but nothing at this stage,” said a smiling Delgado.
Image credit: Samsung