This latest Note builds off the company’s well-received Galaxy Note 5" smart phone / tablet. Samsung says it’s sold 8 million so far worldwide and its internal research shows that 50% of these Galaxy Note consumers are using the device’s pen with the 5” device daily.
Now, starting today in the U.S., Samsung’s extending and adding to many of the features they developed for the 5" Galaxy Note and bringing them to a larger screen size.
Betting on the S-Pen
The 5" Galaxy Note has been uniquely positioned in the market because it’s bigger than a typical smartphone with its 5.3-inch display and is big enough to be considered a mini-tablet. But the other unique aspect is Samsung’s addition of a customized experience via a stylus for note-taking and other pen-based applications.
HTC experimented with something similar when they launched the Flyer. I took a hard look at that product and it was one of the original pen-based implementations that led me to believe a tablet with stylus accessory could find a spot in the market.
With the Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung is betting there is a segment of the market that values a tablet in the bigger screen size that has a customized pen-based input for specific applications. Samsung not only designed the S-Pen that’s included with the Galaxy Note, but also specific software to take advantage of it.
S-Note and S-Memo, the two main applications showcased on the 5" Galaxy Note, are included in the Galaxy Note 10.1 as well, but there is more news on the software front.
The key to having a pen as a core part of any tablet solution is to have software that is specifically designed to take advantage of pen features. Samsung has done this and more importantly created an SDK for the S-Pen technology so third party application developers can create S-Pen optimized apps.
Customized software for productivity
Developers have already been taking advantage of this SDK by creating S-Pen optimized apps featured in the Samsung App store that’s part the Galaxy Note line of products. A good example of this is the Polaris Office Suite which is included on the Note 10.1 and many of the applications include unique implementations that bring the pen into the productivity equation.
Samsung has also worked with Adobe to create an S-Pen version of PS touch that allows for extremely precise pen-based editing and altering of photographs – something many designers do today with external pen-based solutions and their PCs.
In total, there are 40 S-Pen optimized apps available today.
But the release of the SDK for S-Pen also opens the door for many businesses that are deploying or thinking about deploying custom software for tablets, to create and optimize key apps that need or require a pen as a part of the solution.
Samsung has also taken their development of Android to a new level by customizing many parts of the OS to support not only S-Pen but a more productive set of use cases. A good example of this is how they have focused on multitasking.
Multitasking and Global Share on the Galaxy Note
Multitasking is a key feature many traditional PC users are comfortable with and Samsung has brought this to tablets in unique way.
With the Galaxy Note 10.1 consumers, with the touch of a button, can work with two apps side by side on the screen. In practice, this lets you drag and drop files from one side to the other and work on say a presentation in two screens side by side.
Samsung is also thinking a lot about how small business or enterprises use these tablets together to collaborate. They are including a new piece of software called Group Share which lets devices like the Note 10.1 and even their latest Galaxy SIII smart phone sync together and view and collaborate on the same document or presentation in real time.
The bottom line for business
I walked away from an preview briefing I had related to the Galaxy Note 10.1 impressed with Samsung's focus on productivity, work-related use cases, and business professionals at large. The Note 10.1 has been very well thought out and built specifically to enhance tablet productivity.
Samsung is looking to change the conversation and strongly emphasize productivity, not just consumption, as a viable option with this tablet.
This is an encouraging move in my opinion as we need to begin emphasizing tablets and their role as productivity machines.
To do this I think more innovation around the keyboard and pen accessories for tablets will be key. Apple is the clear leader in tablets today with a majority share of the market among both consumers and business.
But by focusing specifically on business needs, I believe Samsung has a chance to make some serious inroads on the iPad. Better still, the competition is sure to push both companies to continue innovating.