Friday, August 10, 2012

Samsung, Amazon may be testing limits of phones, tablets August 10, 2012, 12:44 PM

In the world of new mobile device rumors, a couple interesting pieces of chatter have emerged on a couple players who are working hard to carve out some space against the mighty Apple Inc. AAPL -0.07%.
In the more “solid” camp, Samsung will be hosting an event next Wednesday in New York. The Korean electronics giant has not said officially what will be featured, but the invitation sports an image suggesting its Galaxy Note – its extra-large screen smartphone that’s been an unexpected hit, selling more than 7 million units by June 1 after barely six months on the market.
Several tech blogs are reporting that the event in New York will be to unveil some new versions of the Galaxy Note. Most expect the Galaxy Note 10.1 that Samsung announced at Mobile World Congress in February, which is a 10-inch tablet that – like the first Note – also includes a stylus. Samsung has had other Android tablets on the market, but has failed to make much of a dent against Apple’s popular iPad, which is still believed to command at least two-thirds of the overall tablet market.
The interesting question is whether Samsung will build in the capability for the 10-inch note to connect to wireless voice networks – as most tablets currently only use the data networks offered by carriers. On Friday, analyst Shing Yin of Guggenheim speculated that more tablets could be used to supplant smartphones through data connections and apps such as Skype, and he named another company that may test this concept –
Amazon AMZN -0.89% is currently rumored to be working on a smartphone device, and already has the 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet on the market, which has become a distant Number Two to the iPad.
In his report, Yin speculates that Amazon’s smartphone may not be a traditional smartphone at all, but rather a smaller tablet that can make voice calls through apps and data networks. He notes that data plans for tablets currently run cheaper than smartphones, and that Amazon does not have an existing phone business to endanger with the carriers, so it might be the logical one to try this option.
“Even though this device would look, feel, and act like a smartphone, one could hardly call it a phone if it doesn’t have voice and text capability,” Yin wrote. “Looking at the other entries in their service plan price list, one must conclude that this device most resembles a tablet. Who says a tablet has to be a certain size?”
Yin added that he has no inside knowledge of what Amazon is building, so his speculation is just that.
-Dan Gallagher

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