Home Samsung: One Tablet Closer to Irrelevance

Samsung: One Tablet Closer to Irrelevance

Samsung has a history of its executives contradicting themselves. Especially when it comes to tablet sales. In January 2011, Samsung reported on its earnings call that its tablet sales were “quite small.” A minor controversy erupted when the company said that statement was an error in the call’s transcription. Samsung backtracked and said that tablet sales were “quite smooth.”

Samsung probably should not let its executives talk about tablet sales at all. Today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Samsung executive Hankil Yoon said, “honestly, we’re not doing very well in the tablet market.” He then went on to say that he hopes new Samsung Note tablets would cannibalize sales of older Galaxy Tabs. There are already several versions of Samsung tablets on the market, none of which sell well. Is it time to start killing off a couple versions?

A popular phrase for fiction writers is to, “kill your babies.” That means that during the editing process it may be beneficial to kill off some of your more clever plot lines and dialogue because they ruin the flow of the overall story. It is hard to throw your most clever writing away, but sometimes it is just necessary.

Yoon told reporters, “The best thing to survive in the market is to kill your products … We want to stay competitive in the market.”

Apparently, Yoon’s comments did not jibe well with Samsung HQ. Gizmodo reports that the device manufacturer released a counter-statement:

“Seeking to kill your own product by releasing increasingly compelling devices might position Samsung as a confident brand. A brand ambitious to improve its products so that the choice for consumers is between several Samsung products rather than between Samsung and its competitors’ products.”

That is some pretty quick spin work from the Samsung public relations department. We have written before that Samsung has too many tablets on the market and none of them are priced to sell and many require subsidized contract commitments from mobile carriers. The problem with Samsung tablets is not the hardware and not really the software or even the marketing. It is the variation of tablets on the market and the fact that none are really price to sell and often require contracts.

How does Apple do so well with the iPad? Outside of the Apple Occult, it has the first mover advantage in tablet market, a robust app ecosystem, a decent price point for entry-level devices and a lack of contracts. The newest Samsung tablet, the Galaxy Tab 7.7, will go on sale for $500 on contract this week. The Amazon Kindle Fire does well because it is a $199 Android tablet from a respectable vendor. No contracts, no contradictions, no hassles.

Samsung contradicts itself at every turn. Whether that is executives saying one thing and the public relations department saying another or the fact that the company thinks that it can compete with itself in the tablet market. Samsung’s flood of Galaxy devices into the smartphone market turned out to be a great decision. That approach is just not working in the tablet market.

What do users want from a tablet? One device that comes at a reasonable price point and does not require the user to spend hundreds of more dollars a year on a service they may or may not need. It is hard to gain momentum with a single product when there are five other similar products at similar price points that do not conform to these general rules.

What does that mean for Samsung? It does not mean that there should be more tablets from the vendor as it hopes to find one that explodes on the market. The company is rumored to be making a 10.1-inch Note tablet, a big sister to the 5-inch Note tweener. In tablet range that gives Samsung the Note, 7-inch Tab Plus, 7.7-Inch Tab, 8.9-inch Tab, 10.1-inch Tab and a 10.1-inch Note.

This is all getting confusing. And ridiculous. It is like Samsung feels the need to make splashes at every major gadget conference with a new device. There were new devices at the Consumer Electronics Show, now at Mobile World Congress and likely a couple more lined up for CTIA in New Orleans in May.

Yoon may have spoken out of school with his comments at MWC but Samsung should heed the call. Kill your babies. Make one device, priced to sell, off contract.

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