Android tablets continue to gain market share and are likely to pass the Apple's iPad lead in two years' time, Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, suggested back in January, when the research firm reported that Google's tablet lead had increased by 10-fold during the fourth quarter.
A number of pundits have argued, however, that Android tablets are about low prices and high sales volumes — not about truly competing with the Apple iPad. Can any company come close to both the market share and heart share Apple attracts? Samsung appears to be trying.
Yesterday it announced a number of software upgrades that Galaxy Tab 10.1 owners can begin to expect starting tomorrow (as well as some accessories and docks, according to Engadget).
"Android may be 'all about volume' in the aggregate, but individual vendors still need to offer compelling value propositions. Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the first 10-inch tablet to match the iPad 2's hardware form factor, and that alone makes it one of the best Android tablets on the market — particularly the embedded LTE version, which offers extremely fast connectivity without adding any bulk," Current Analysis Analyst Avi Greengart told Connected Planet.
"Samsung's latest software update adds widgets, some new user interface elements, content and enterprise security," he added. "Some of these additions are unnecessary and some are not exclusive to Samsung, but after playing with the new software for a day my sense is that there's more good than bad."
The new services and features include:
• The Samsung TouchWiz UX user interface, which is specifically designed to work with Honeycomb 3.1 to make the most of the tablet's screen size. Features will include Live Panel, a magazine-like widget for viewing home screen information, like weather, social updates and news; Mini Mode Tray, offering one-touch access to most-used applications; Clipboard, a souped-up cut-and paste; an Indicator Quick Panel, for toggling settings such as brightness and sound; and Photo Editor for, well, editing photos.
• An updated Media Hub, with a new UI and better-looking video. Users can access thousands of new movie and television shows, and a feature called Media Hub show lets users — when the Tab is in a dock — play Hub content on a TV via an HDMI cable.
• An upgrade to Social Hub, which aggregates communications such as emails, instant messages and social networking details into a single feed.
• New pre-loaded apps, including — most notably — Amazon's Music Cloud Player, Amazon Kindle and Words with Friends.
• With Android making inroads into the enterprise, Samsung is also adding full support for Exchange ActiveSync version 14, on-device encryption, a Cisco VPN, Sybase mobile device management capabilities and Cisco's mobile conferencing solution.
• Samsung Kies 2.0, which includes support for Macs and PCs, better device management, better multimedia support and faster file transferring.
• Swype, the application said to speed up typing on a virtual keyboard.
• And finally, the ability to print from the Galaxy Tab to "select" printers.
In all, a lot of nice features, but will they translate to iPad 2-style loyalty and admiration?
"The Tab has faster networking, more customization, and a better camera," said Greengart, "but Apple's tablet is far more versatile, thanks to over 100,000 tablet-specific apps, vastly more content in iTunes and a simpler, more consistent user interface."