T-Mobile USA kicked off sales of Samsung's 7-in. Galaxy Tab tablet computers today, with other U.S. carriers soon to follow suit.
While several carriers plan to offer the Galaxy Tab, analysts generally believe the touchscreen device won't offer much competition early on for Apple's popular iPad, which has a larger, 9.7-in. touchscreen. The iPad went on sale in April and has already grabbed 95% of the global tablet market.
Apple has sold an estimated 8 million iPads since the tablet's launch.
"I think it's going to [take] a long while for the Galaxy Tab to catch on," said Carl Howe, an analyst at Yankee Group. "It has a long way to go to gain the same level of acceptance and viability [as the iPad]. That said, I also think it has one of the best shots at being a viable iPad competitor, simply because of Samsung's manufacturing and distribution prowess and its ability to work on [a variety] of networks."
T-Mobile, the fourth largest wireless carrier, featured the tablet on its Web site today for $399.99 after rebate with a two-year service contract; it also offered two data plans.
Verizon Wireless plans to begin selling it tomorrow, with Sprint Nextel beginning sales on Sunday. AT&T also plans to sell it, but hasn't announced a sales date or pricing.
In addition to online sales, T-Mobile has the device in its stores nationwide. At the largest Framingham, Mass., T-Mobile store, a sales rep said in a phone call that his store had just four Galaxy Tabs in stock and urged buyers to act quickly before stock is depleted.
T-Mobile seems to be positioning the device as a multimedia access tablet for consumers; the carrier's online promotion says, "Say hello to big entertainment on the go.... Announcing our first touchscreen tablet with Android-power entertainment for the whole family."
Verizon, meanwhile, has focused on both consumer and business uses.
Sprint is offering the Galaxy Tab under terms similar to those from T-Mobile: $400 with a two-year contract. Verizon plans to sell it for $600 with no long-term contract and four monthly wireless access plans. Those plans start at $20 for 1GB of data per month and range up to $80 for 10GB of data.