Samsung Electronics' first tablet computer will go on sale in two weeks, it said on Thursday, joining the hunt to challenge Apple's iPad.
Global handset vendors and PC makers including Nokia, LG Electronics, and Hewlett-Packard are moving into the new category of devices, between traditional PCs and smartphones, taking a cue from Apple.
Dell Inc. said last month it was launching its new tablet device called the Dell Streak to U.S. customers.
"We see huge potential for this kind of product," YH Lee, head of marketing at Samsung Mobile, told Reuters in an interview on sidelines of the IFA consumer electronics fair. The new Galaxy Tab, with a 7-inch screen, will go on sale in European markets in mid-September. The device, which uses Google's Android software, offers access to books, films and music.
"Samsung is betting big on the tablet category with this device," said Ben Wood, research director at CCS Insight, adding the success of Galaxy Tab — which is clearly smaller than iPad with its 9.7-inch screen — will depend on pricing.
"If positioned carefully the Galaxy Tab could emerge as an operator-friendly alternative to Apple's iPad as it could be subsidized to extremely low price points in the run-up to the lucrative holiday sales season," he said.
Samsung declined to give the price of Galaxy Tab, saying it will depend on operator packages in different countries.
YH Lee said most European operators selling Samsung phones were set to also sell the Tab to their clients, and several operators would sell it in the United States.
Last week research firm iSuppli forecast the iPad will likely account for nearly three-quarters of worldwide tablet shipments this year, and hold at least 70 percent of the market in 2011 and 62 percent by 2012.
Samsung said the market was far from fixed yet.
"The market opportunity is wide open. We believe our Galaxy Tab will fill the big white space," said YH Lee.
Privately held British firm Binatone unveiled at IFA several Android-powered tablets, with prices starting from 170 euros ($217.6).
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