So often company executives beat about the bush when it comes to talking to the media, dressing up their talk in flowery language, attempting to avoid the burning issue, trying desperately to cast things in a positive light — when actually things might be looking pretty darn bleak.
And so it’s somewhat refreshing to hear that at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Hankil Yoon, a product strategy executive for Samsung, put it in no uncertain terms when describing the company’s efforts to take on Apple’s iPad. “Honestly, we’re not doing very well in the tablet market,” he told a media roundtable.
We kind of knew that already, but to hear it straight down the line from someone at the company may have left a few at the discussion retrieving their jaw from the floor.
Yoon’s honesty could arguably be taken as a sign of confidence about how Samsung views its future prospects in the tablet market. If there’s any panic among company executives about its place in the market, no doubt Yoon would have uttered something more evasive, indirect and ambiguous.
Despite investing much money and time in developing, manufacturing and marketing its range of Android-powered tablets, the devices have up to now failed to catch the imagination of consumers.
Samsung’s first foray into the tablet market was in September 2010 — five months after the launch of Apple’s iPad — with the 7-inch Galaxy Tab. Since then it has launched a range of devices with various screen sizes and specifications, and this week added to the collection with the unveiling of three more: the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, and the Galaxy Note 10.1.
The Korean company is also pushing its new 5.3-inch Galaxy Note device, a large phone or small tablet, depending on which way you want to look at it — some in the industry have simply nicknamed it a “phablet.” DT’s Jeffrey van Camp, who reviews the device here, said that making a call on it “feels like you’re holding a brick to your face,” and that you need big hands to use it comfortably as a single-hand device.
Speaking to PC Mag, Kevin Packingham, senior vice president of product innovation for Samsung Mobile, suggested that Samsung has been feeling its way in the tablet market with the launch of so many devices. “2011 was the big introductory year for Samsung on the tablet side,” Packingham said, adding, “I think we’ve kind of reached a point where we understand what the market looks like, and we’re now optimizing the tablet portfolio to go after the segments where we can be successful.”
While Samsung will be hoping its 5.3-inch Galaxy Note sells well, it continues to face a big challenge when it comes to its larger devices, an area of the market that Apple dominates with its iPad.
While acknowledging that Apple has a strong product, Packingham said he believes Samsung can turn things around. “There’s no doubt that Apple has a really great user experience,” he told PC Mag, “but that’s where Samsung has made tremendous advances in the last two years.” Indeed, such advances have caused Apple to look over its shoulder and engage with Samsung in a number of ongoing patent disputes around the world.
Packingham added that the Korean company is attempting to change the mindset of consumers who go to Apple without even thinking about it. “We are trying to connect with those consumers who may have historically considered an Apple product and get that chance for them to reconsider their decision [and] give Samsung another shot,” he said.
Despite Yoon’s honest assessment of the current state of play, it seems that Samsung is in the tablet market for the long haul and believes it can, over time, chip away at Apple’s market share with its own iPad alternatives.
This article was originally posted on Digital Trends
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