Exclusive: Samsung beats iPad for 10,000 tablet giveaway deal at medical conference

October 1, 2013

Samsung's 8-inch tablet will be used in place of traditional conference materials as the event organizers have decided to ditch all paper programs and brochures in favor of the Galaxy Tab 3 that retails for $299. 

“This is the 25th anniversary of the conference and we wanted to push the envelope and really go digital in a big way, in all elements of what we do,” Johnnie White, Executive Director of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation Center for Education, told TabTimes.

“We’ve offered a meeting app the past four years, but now we’re going a step further with the tablet pre-loaded with the conference app, interactive tools and everyone on the same platform.”

All makes of tablets have been showing up with increasing frequency at trade shows as their portability and long battery life can make them more efficient to carry and use at all day events than laptops. White says he hopes to simplify how users access conference materials by having everyone use the same tablet.

Size was also an issue.

“Portability was a key consideration, says White. “We didn’t want to give physicians anything too large that they’d have an issue carrying it around.”

Unlike the standard iPad, the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 as well as the iPad mini and smaller 7-inch tablets, fit in a standard lab coat pocket and can be gripped with one hand. 

The attendees will be able to keep the tablet for use in their practice and TCT plans to continue feeding them content via the app related to cardiovascular issues after the conference ends. 

Asus, Google, iPad, Microsoft, and Samsung

White says once the decision was made to offer a tablet, TCT reached out to major vendors including Apple, Asus, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung.

They all offered TCT a volume discount on its enormous order and White said there was not much of a price difference in what any of them offered. (At list price, 10,000 Galaxy Tab 3s would cost almost $3 million).

What sealed the deal in Samsung’s favor he says, was Samsung’s commitment to partner with them on the event (including training TCT staff and providing onsite support staff) and plans to develop devices for the medical community.

Although Samsung works with channel partners to market tablets to many types of organizations the deal with TCT was “in terms of the comprehensiveness of the partnership, the furthest we’ve gone with any other group,” said Jennifer Langan, a marketing director with Samsung’s Enterprise Business Division.

While the Galaxy Tab 3 is a standard offering, Samsung “reflashed” all the devices for the TCT conference so that the speciality application and conference material are front and center.

“This is going to be a new device for a lot of the attendees so we wanted to make it as easy as possible and not clutter up the screen,” said Linda Hofflander, Director for Vertical Marketing at Samsung's Enterprise Business Division. “There are three apps they can see big and bold.” Samsung is also including the printed how-to guide and how-to video.

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A complicated challenge

Tablets have been given away as prizes and to conference attendees for years now. But the number of tablets being given away at the TCT conference and the virtual requirement they be used onsite is unprecedented. 

Physicians pay $1,745 to attend the conference that runs from October 27 to November 1 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. But White makes clear the cost of the tablet isn’t “hidden” inside the registration fee.

“It’s definitely costing us money, but we think it’s worth it,” he says. “It’s an investment in the future of digital education." White admits iPads are more popular in general as well in the medical community. “We did a needs assessment and for the majority of the attendees this will probably be their first Android device,” he says.

On top of that, White says about 70% of the expected 12,000 attendees will be coming from outside the United States and not focused primarily on having to learn how to use a new device.

But there are a couple of ways TCT hopes to keep the learning issues to a minimum.

For one, TCT is sending all registered attendees video tutorials ahead of time and encouraging them to register with Gmail (if they aren’t already) and the Google Play store so they don’t have to do it onsite.

And in addition to the onsite support staff, TCT will have video monitors playing the tutorials so attendees can get a refresher on how to use the tablet and app.

(For news, trends and advice about Android tablets and apps, sign up for the free TabTimes for Android newsletter)

One giant beta test

TCT also does other conferences, but White says no decision has been made yet on whether there will be further giveaways at other events or at next year's TCT conference.

"We haven’t thought about what’s next,” he says. “At the end of this we'll do an assessment of how it went and figure out how we want to move forward with the other conferences we do.” 

Meanwhile Samsung expects to do more deals with other healthcare-related conferences. Hofflander says her group has already lined up three other very promising opportunities to work with healthcare-related trade events. On top of that, Samsung's looking at other opportunities in three other key vertical industries: corporate finance, retail and education.

And like the TCT deal, Langan says Samsung is looking to engage customers.

"We look for opportunities where there is a plan for us to add value," she says. "Just giving them a tablet in the conference bag doesn't do anything for us." 

(Don't miss "Choosing your next tablet: The operational advantage" at the TabletBiz conference & expo coming to New York, November 13, 2013 – free passes available for qualifying business and IT managers.) 

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