Samsung is reportedly launching the Galaxy Tab 7-inch tablet in the U.S. on Thursday, and a new report says the device is headed to AT&T. Expectations are high for the Android-based Galaxy Tab, introduced during the IFA Berlin trade show in September, as it is considered to be the first significant challenger to Apple's iPad.
Previous rumors said the Galaxy Tab was headed to Verizon after a screenshot surfaced allegedly showing Samsung's tablet listed in Verizon's inventory system. But now Engadget has topped the inventory screenshot with a leaked photo that appears to show the AT&T logo on the back covering of the Galaxy Tab. The gadget blog also says the Galaxy Tab will launch on AT&T before the end of the year.
AT&T vs. Verizon
When Samsung debuted the Galaxy Tab at IFA Berlin, the device featured SIM card slots suggesting that it would work on a GSM network. AT&T and T-Mobile are the only GSM carriers in the United States, while Verizon and Sprint offer CDMA networks. The advantage of using a GSM network is that it's often easier to switch between carriers and use your device overseas simply by swapping out the network SIM cards.
But that advantage may not make a difference if AT&T offers the Galaxy Tab as a carrier-locked device similar to the iPhone. There may also be concerns about AT&T's network capabilities for the Galaxy Tab considering the numerous reports about poor data service with Apple devices and recent data breaches on the iPad.
A Verizon-based Galaxy Tab, meanwhile, may have better 3G coverage and data speeds. But it would most definitely be locked to Verizon's network by virtue of being a CDMA device.
If the Tab comes to Verizon, there would also be considerations about what kind of access the Tab would have to third-party applications. When Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab, it said the device would have access to Android's Marketplace as well as a Samsung-branded app store.
But if the Galaxy Tab moves to Verizon, the device may offer only Verizon's own V CAST apps store by default. Verizon first announced plans for its V CAST apps store in July of last year following the success of retail apps outlets offered by device makers including Apple, Google, Research in Motion and Nokia.
At the time, Verizon said users would still be able to access apps stores such as Android's Market as well as V CAST. Competing app stores, however, would not be pre-loaded onto Verizon devices, Ryan Hughes, VP Partner Management for Verizon, told GigaOm. Instead, users would have to download an Android Market application to buy apps outside of V CAST. Verizon recently started accepting submissions for third-party Android applications to V CAST. The store currently offers only BlackBerry apps after launching late last year.
Galaxy Tab users on Verizon may also be stuck with a carrier-specific version of Skype that must be used over 3G instead of Wi-Fi. Skype Mobile on Verizon can only make Skype-to-Skype or international calls. All calls to U.S.-based phone numbers are rerouted to Verizon's voice network. You also can't use Skype Mobile on Verizon to accept incoming calls from mobile or landline phones.
AT&T, Verizon or both?
Right now, it's not clear whether Verizon or AT&T will get the Galaxy Tab. It's also possible that Samsung will launch its new tablet device on multiple carriers in the U.S. The strange thing, however, is that Samsung doesn't appear to be offering a Wi-Fi only version of the Galaxy Tab as Apple has done with the iPad. So avoiding carriers altogether with the Galaxy Tab may not be possible.
About the Galaxy Tab
Samsung's Galaxy Tab is a 7-inch tablet device with a 1.0GHz processor running Android OS 2.2 (froyo). The Galaxy Tab features a 1024-by-600 pixel resolution display, 1080p high-definition video playback and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. The tablet also has a 3 megapixel rear-facing camera with video and still capture and LED flash. Storage options include 16GB or 32GB models, plus a microSD card slot for an extra 32GB of storage for a maximum 64GB of storage. Samsung is expected to announce pricing, launch dates and carrier information on Thursday.
Manufacturers are expected to unleash a slew of tablet devices in the coming months following Apple's launched of the iPad earlier this year. Apple recently reported it had sold 3.27 million iPads between April and June.
Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.