Samsung's Tablet Strategy

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — February 14, 2013

During a recent media tour, Mobile Enterprise met with Samsung executives in New York to get a view of the company’s tablet strategy for 2013. Nanda Ramachandran, VP and GM of Samsung Mobile put it simply: “Where do we go from here? When we look at the tablet market in 2013, we see ourselves as we were in the smartphone market in 2012. We want to become the top tablet category owner in the world.”

According to recent IDC research, Samsung is on its way to that goal, showing 263% growth from 4Q11 to 4Q12. In looking forward, Ramachandran took a look back at Samsung’s tablet history staking claim for innovation in the space from the beginning.
And, of the most recent innovation, Galaxy Note 10.1, Travis Merrill, Director of Product Marketing, Mobile said, “We have been very pleased with the feedback we received since this launched.” [August 2012]   
Premium Suite
Additionally, in January 2013, Samsung offered an update to the device that upgraded the OS, improved performance, enhanced functionality and added fully re-sizeable apps.
Merrill explained that the “Premium Suite” delivered Jelly Bean 4.1, but “more importantly” it brought forth a lot of new and improved features. He explained that many of these enhancements were derived from the aforementioned user feedback.
Shoneel Kolhatkar, Director of Product Planning, Mobile, added to this:
“From a Samsung perspective, we have a commitment that all innovation we have introduced in our leading smartphones and tablets will always carry forward to the next device. We always try to give incremental innovation experiences to our users, as soon as we have it.”
The updates, according to Merrill, are not just a matter of upgrading to the latest version of Android, but they bring value and additional benefits to the device that’s already in hand.
What’s New
Galaxy 10.1 was the first tablet in the market that enabled the user to run two apps, at a time, on the same screen, and with Premium Suite, Merrill said that number has increased. A cascade view allows users to freely resize, move and pin selected apps in multiple views, running them simultaneously or while operating the home-screen. This PC-like feature will help users to be more productive, and perform multiple tasks at one time.
Kolhatkar  said, “I am really excited about the multi-window capability, an innovation that no other tablet manufacturer has done in the past. It has made me a lot more efficient at getting to the things I need.”
The S Pen, used by 60% of Galaxy 10.1 owners, now has “Airview,” which allows you to use it for navigation. Merrill showed how you can hover over a file or email and get preview of content. He said called this capability: “one less step for content consumption.”  Kolhatkar demonstrated how you can now handwrite an email with the S Pen.
Merrill also pointed out the Smart Stay feature where the device recognizes eyes looking at the screen, so it will keep the screen from going dim. He said that these are just a few examples of how innovation, better usability and increased productivity have been realized in Samsung’s overall tablet portfolio.
At Home
These areas will continue to be drivers in the future and are coming together “to create the best user experience possible in three ways: on the go, at home and at work,” Merrill said.  Overall there will be a focus on “creating uniformity between the experiences on the smartphone and on the tablet.”
When at home, this uniformity will also include integration with the TV. Content consumption is, of course, a leading action performed on tablets, and during Samsung’s “early” tablet days, they discovered that tablets were being used in the living room in front of the television.
The tablet was a complementary engagement for a user, and many interactions on the device were related to the TV content being watched. With so many electronics in its overall offerings, the marriage of TV and tablet is a huge play for Samsung. And with the consumerization of IT, ensuring a top UX on all its platforms, can only help the company when it comes to BYOx.
At Work
More specifically when it comes to work, Merrill specifically pointed to the “SAFE” (Samsung For Enterprise) program introduced in mid-2012. The company is now kicking off a larger campaign around this and he says it “makes Android a workable platform for business and enterprise.”  
SAFE covers email/calendar/contacts through advanced Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync features,  and includes on-device AES 256-bit encryption, VPN connectivity and multivendor MDM support. Essentially the phone is certified and therefore ensures IT compliance.
In the Future
Having outlined product features and business drivers, Ramachandran brings it all together with the “key pillars of product strategy” — the core elements for the future.
The first is to become the “the center of the living room,” bringing TV and tablet content all together, and integrating it in a seamless way.
The second core element is, again, enhancing the relationship between the phone and the tablet. He said that it exists today, but for a truly unified interaction, they will push the threshold further.
The last core element is productivity — that is moving from a consumption tablet to a creation tablet. “We believe the Note is this,” Ramachandran said. This is where the enterprise should pay attention as it likely addresses making the business case for tablets.
And even though he specifically referenced the Note line of devices, in looking at the entire mobile portfolio, Samsung considers all lines to be “built for business.”


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