Samsung is in talks with wireless carriers in the U.S. and South Korea to launch LTE versions of its Android-powered tablet products, a senior Samsung executive said.
JK Shin, the president of Samsung's mobile communications business, said the company is moving ahead with the talks but did not say when the carriers will release the LTE products. "The 4G race has already begun," Shin said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "All carriers are coping with high data traffic with the availability of tablets, and without 4G service it will become increasingly difficult to cope."
So far, the only confirmed LTE tablet in the U.S. is the Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Xoom from Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). Motorola began selling an EV-DO version of the Xoom earlier this year, and customers who have a Xoom already will be able to send it to Motorola to get an LTE upgrade sometime this summer.
In a wide-ranging interview, Shin and another Samsung executive, Younghee Lee, senior vice president of sales and marketing, provided some insights into Samsung's mobile strategy. Samsung's thinner GalaxyTab 10.1 will be available as a Wi-Fi-only product this June; Samsung also plans to release an 8.9-inch GalaxyTab this summer. Both gadgets will ship with the Honeycomb version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. Samsung expects its tablet shipments to jump fivefold this year to 7.5 million units.
Shin and Lee said Samsung will continue to use Android in its future tablet products, but they noted Samsung will concurrently use its own bada platform when appropriate. "When there is a market need for our own software, we will consider it [bada] but that's not our plan at the moment," she said.
Shin also touched on the patent imbroglio Samsung is locked in with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). "We didn't copy Apple's design," Shin said. "We have used many similar designs over the past years and it [Apple's allegation] will not be legally problematic."
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
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