Samsung Electronics Co launched a thinner and lighter version of its Galaxy tablet in its lucrative home market Wednesday, trying to halt the runaway success of Apple Inc's iPad.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is an upgraded version of the 7-inch Tab introduced in October.
Blockbuster iPad sales announced by Apple Tuesday underscore the challenge for the South Korean company.
Apple sold 14 million iPads in the first half of the year, compared with analysts' sales estimates of about 7.5 million units for the Galaxy Tab over 2011.
As our smartphone business grew very fast within a very short period of time, I believe it's just a matter of time for our tablet business to improve, J.K. Shin, head of Samsung's mobile division, told reporters.
Samsung is Apple's nearest rival in the booming mobile device industry as it leverages its cost competitiveness and access to chips and core tablet components.
It has sharply narrowed the gap with Apple in the smartphone market, but remains a distant second in the tablet market, which research firm Gartner forecasts will surge to 108 million devices next year from an estimated 70 million in 2011.
Apple's quarterly results showed again it's indeed the strongest rival to beat. Samsung will have a tough second half due to growing competition from Apple as it is set to introduce a new iPhone, said James Song, an analyst at Daewoo Securities.
Blockbuster sales of the iPhone and iPad again helped Apple crush Wall Street's expectations for its third-quarter results. Apple said Tuesday that concern over iPad 2 supply constraints had eased and demand was still outstripping supply in some markets.
The sale of the Tab in Korea is Samsung's fifth launch after its U.S. debut a month ago and its sales kickoff in Indonesia, where the company says it commands a 65 percent market share. It has also launched the device in Italy and Sweden.
Pricing for the new product, slightly thinner and lighter than the iPad 2, starts from $500 in the U.S. market, the same price as the iPad 2.
Samsung faces the challenge of moving beyond being a hardware company, clever at copying ideas, to becoming more creative and better adept at software at a time when consumer gadgets are getting smarter.
Second-quarter profit at Samsung, the world's largest maker of memory chips and televisions, fell by a quarter as weak earnings at its flat screen unit dragged, overshadowing robust sales from its mobile division.
Samsung reiterated Wednesday it aimed to boost tablet sales by more than five fold this year. It didn't provide specific numbers but analysts expect the company to have sold about 1.5 million units last year.
(Editing by Anshuman Daga)