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Device operating systems

Samsung Still Experimenting With Tablets

SAN FRANCISCO -- Open Mobile Summit 2011 -- Samsung Corp. , which just overtook Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) in smartphone shipments in the third quarter, is taking a divergent approach to tablets in hopes of beating the iPad maker there as well. (See OS Watch: Samsung Scores on Smartphones and OS Watch: Samsung Outsmarts Apple.)

Whereas Apple built a tablet and showed consumers how they'd use this device they'd never known they needed, Samsung plans to learn from its customers about how they use tablets and go from there. Samsung's new SVP of Product Innovation, former Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) exec Kevin Packingham, says that the Galaxy Tab maker is still experimenting with tablet size. And the most important thing for the device maker to do now is study how its customers are using tablets. Then, it’ll decide on form factor, price and features.

“Right now cost is not the issue we’re trying to solve; [the issue is] what will drive adoption,” he says.

Samsung will always have multiple sizes, Packingham adds. But it's figuring out what features to pair with each size and how to develop the tablets to the specific use cases they observe.

In terms of what he anticipates consumers care about, Packingham says that right now Long Term Evolution (LTE) on tablets is not a selling point, though it is on phones, and consumers are becoming more aware of processors, screen resolution and memory and checking into these features when they buy either device.

Packingham also sees a bright future on tablets ahead for Google’s latest operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich. He says this version of the OS is good enough it doesn’t need any customization from Samsung like its TouchWhiz software that shows up on previous versions like Gingerbread. And, as the No. 1 Android manufacturer, Samsung isn’t feeling pressure to customize in the face of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility LLC either. (See Scoop! It's the Ice Cream Sandwich.)

“It’s a balance ... but as long as you provide the platform for application developers and customers to create a personalized service, you get a lot more traction,” Packingham says. “If you can fuel this development community, which Google has done a great job of, they will do things with the hardware we might never have been able to imagine.”

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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