Should Apple be Scared of This New Samsung Toy?

Samsung has launched a new Galaxy Note tablet in three major markets with an attempt to take on Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad more strongly with its standout features, including a stylus-type pen and a split-screen function. The Galaxy Note 10.1 allows a user to have two apps active on a split-screen, while its ‘S-Pen’ is meant to aid in keyboard and other input functions. The Korean company is currently battling accusations from Apple that it copied the design and features of its iPad and iPhone.

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The 10-inch Galaxy Note 10.1 will start selling in the U.S. on Thursday at a starting price of $499 at retailers including Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and (NASDAQ:AMZN). The $499 price tag is for the 16GB version, while the 32GB version will sell for $549. Both versions are WiFi-only.

Samsung said the new tablet will come pre-loaded with several custom-designed apps, including Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Polaris Office, Adobe’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) Photoshop Touch, and Barnes & Noble’s (NYSE:BKS) Nook e-reader. The quad-core processor tablet has a 5 megapixel rear camera and 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera that can detect the user’s eye movements. It will run on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Ice Cream Sandwich Android operating system to start with, but will upgrade to the new Jelly Bean by the end of the year.

Samsung would be hoping to build on the success of its Galaxy Note smartphone, which has sold 10 million units in the nine months since its launch, and the ultra successful Galaxy S3 phone. “The Galaxy Note 10.1 is an aggregation of the best features from our products,” Travis Merrill, Samsung’s director of marketing, said at the launch event in New York.

Despite its smartphone success, Samsung faces an uphill battle in trying to take on Apple in the tablet market. Based on 2012 sales, the iPad has a 64 percent market share, compared to 10 percent for Samsung.

Samsung said the new tablet would be a “game changer,” but analysts are not as convinced.

“When you look at the price and overall consumer awareness about Samsung tablets, it’s not likely to be a big success,” Park Young, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities in Seoul, told Reuters. “Tablets are getting cheaper and even Apple is rumoured to be preparing a cheaper iPad. Consumers also tend not to spend much on tablets any more as smartphones can do most of the entertainment functions that tablets offer.”

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