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Samsung to Roll Out 4G Android Tablet This Year

Samsung

Samsung 4g Tablet

SUWON, South Korea—Bidding to differentiate itself in the increasingly competitive tablet-computer market, Samsung Electronics Co. plans this year to launch an Android-based tablet running on so-called fourth-generation network technology, which promises faster data download than third-generation networks.

“The race for 4G (fourth-generation) has already started,” J.K. Shin, president of Samsung’s mobile communications division, told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview, adding that the transition to 4G is “inevitable” for tablets, because the bigger-volume content they handle requires faster downloads.

The new tablet will be an enhanced version of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab models, Mr. Shin said, without providing further details. Having launched a seven-inch device last October, Samsung will begin selling tablets with bigger screens—8.9 inches and 10.1 inches—in June. The 10.1-inch model, to sell for between $499 and $599, will run on an upgraded version of the Android software called Honeycomb and feature a faster dual-core processor and a two-megapixel front-facing camera.

Mr. Shin’s comments come as Samsung is embroiled in a lawsuit with Apple Inc., a major competitor in the smartphone and the tablet markets, but also the major customer of Samsung’s component business. Earlier this year, Apple filed a lawsuit alleging Samsung copied the look and feel of its popular iPhone smartphones and iPad tablet. Samsung countersued, alleging that the Cupertino, California-based company violated patents covering Samsung’s cellphone transmission technologies. The company filed suits in the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Germany.

“We didn’t copy Apple’s design,” Mr. Shin said. “We have used many similar designs over the past years and it (Apple’s allegation) will not be legally problematic.” He suggested the scale of the lawsuit could grow, though he didn’t provide more details.

Mr. Shin also expresses confidence that Samsung, the world’s second-largest cellphone maker by revenue, will continue to gain ground in smartphones. The company aims for a double-digit share in the global smartphone market this year and Mr. Shin said he expects smartphone shipments this year to meet the company’s earlier guidance of 60 million units. After selling 14 million smartphones in the first quarter, the company aims for second-quarter sales to exceed 20 million.

According to market research firm IDC, Samsung had 10.8% of the global smartphone market in the first quarter, up from 4.3% a year earlier.

Mr. Shin said Samsung may launch a third version of its Galaxy S smartphone in the first half of next year; it launched a second-generation version, the Galaxy S II, last month. The Galaxy S II is slimmer and lighter than the first Galaxy S phone and is embedded with Google‘s latest Android software platform, Gingerbread. The company has said it plans to release the model in 120 countries by early June.

Galaxy S II sales in so far in May are around 1.3 million, Mr. Shin said. He expects the average selling price of Samsung’s cellphones to rise thanks to higher smartphone penetration, which will help boost the company’s earnings in the coming quarter.

Mr. Shin expects second-quarter numbers for Samsung’s mobile division to be similar to the first quarter’s, when it logged on an operating profit of 1.43 trillion won (US$1.32 billion) and an operating margin of 13.5%, the highest since early 2008. He also reiterated that higher-margin smartphones will account for 20% of the company’s total handset shipments in the second quarter, up from 18% in the first quarter.

As consolidation continues in the network gear space, Mr. Shin squashed market speculation that the Korean company might be interested in merger and acquisition activity. He said the company isn’t in talks to purchase Nokia Siemens Networks, the telecom equipment venture of Nokia Corp. and Siemens AG.

Last month, citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nokia Siemens Networks is considering selling a controlling stake in the four-year-old venture and said that some telecom-gear makers, such as Alcatel-Lucent and Samsung, could be interested.

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