“I think it is very important for any new pad, device, or platform out there to run Flash, not just because that enables access to significant chunks of the Internet, but also because if you are not Apple, you are going to need every competitive weapon in the arsenal to make inroads against them,” says Al Hilwa, program director for application development software at IDC.
Consumers have gotten used to having a wide variety of apps to run on the iPad. Orr says these apps have helped popularize high-end mobile devices. Users are also accustomed to easy access to content such as music and TV shows on these devices. In both of these cases, Orr says, Apple has a strong advantage–its app store and iTunes are both convenient ways for users to find content.
Samsung hopes to compete in this arena as well. The Android market now has 100,000 apps, but Hilwa says consumers are more impressed by their quality than their number.
Along with a new website, Samsung has launched Media Hub, an application that lets consumers access premium TV and movie content. The application is available through the Android market. The Galaxy Tab will also be able to share content smoothly with Samsung televisions and mobile phones. Kris Narayanan, vice president of digital marketing for Samsung North America, says the company has worked to create a real “connective experience”–users will be able to sling content between devices, pausing on one and resuming on another.
Narayanan says it’s important to provide a coherent experience across different products, and he believes that apps are central to that goal. Samsung has launched a store on its website that at first will provide apps for televisions only. Eventually, those apps also will work on all Samsung devices, including the Galaxy Tab.
Orr says the ability to discover content and use apps to extend the functionality of the Galaxy “is very desirable and perhaps critical.” Apple has a huge advantage with its iPhone operating system and existing iTunes content, he notes, but he believes that Samsung may have developed the necessary partnerships and software to be a viable competitor.
Ultimately, Orr says, it’s too early to predict how the Galaxy will compare: “The media tablet market is really in its infancy.”