Editorial: Why the Galaxy Tab's price makes sense

Alright, I was wrong. On the Engadget Podcast I said that Samsung is capable of navigating to and checking out the iPad prices. I figured Samsung would see $500 as its maximum unsubsidized price for the Galaxy Tab, but apparently Samsung decided its competition was the iPad with 3G. Is a $600 Galaxy Tab a compelling offering up against a $630 3G iPad? Maybe, maybe not. But it's not an insane proposition by any means. In fact, I think it could do pretty well.

I seem to be somewhat in the minority on this point (if Twitter's reaction to the price is any indication of the majority). Certainly Steve Jobs takes issue with the value proposition a 7-inch tablet, and would perhaps be as flippant of the price as many of my esteemed Twitter-friends. But am I crazy? Have I lost my mind? Has Samsung sucked me in with its unstoppable PR machine and ground me into a Tab believer? Perhaps, but let's look at the facts before we get all hyperbolic:

  • $600 is less than $630. Crazy, I know, but it's true. Samsung is at a distinct disadvantage in not having a 3G-free version of the Tab to compete with Apple's $500 WiFi-only iPad (probably because Google wouldn't give it Market access if they tried), but that doesn't preclude competition in the higher-end, 3G-included space with a cheaper product.

  • 7-inches isn't necessarily cheaper than 10-inches. Smartphones cost around $500 to $600 unsubsidized, despite their much smaller screens. It's a well known fact that smaller components aren't necessarily cheaper than large ones -- in fact, they're often more expensive. Of course, this doesn't mean much to a consumer: they see a tablet that's half the size (in overall screen area) of its competitor and they'll probably expect it to be half the cost. Still, it's worth pointing out, and as we get used to this odd space between laptops and phones, we're all probably going to get better acquainted with the way these prices work.

  • The Tab offers some compelling differences and advantages over the iPad. It runs Android, which for some people is reason enough, based on UI or app selection preference. It also means that the Tab has turn-by-turn directions out of the box that are substantially better than Apple's offering. While the screen is smaller, it's also higher in pixel density, a boon for reading. It's smaller, which means it's easier to bring along than the nearly laptop-sized iPad. It has two cameras, the iPad has none.

At the end of the day I think the iPad will absolutely outsell the Galaxy Tab, probably in 3G models alone. The iPad UI, at least with multitasking, is much better optimized for a tablet, and the developer community has embraced the iPad like few products before it. In a vacuum I think the Galaxy Tab would be well received, but the Galaxy Tab won't exist in a vacuum, obviously. Still, Samsung has been relieved of the task of creating desire or reasoning in customers for a tablet computer -- the iPad already accomplished that hard task -- and Samsung stands to reap the benefits. Whether it be Kindle users looking to "upgrade" to color, or Android users looking for a familiar experience in a tablet, I think there's a market for the Tab, and its $600 pricetag is merely a burden, not a death sentence.