Tablets: Big Three Wireless Providers Hedge Bets With Galaxy Tab

Galaxy TabAT&T (T), Verizon Wireless (VZ), and Sprint-Nextel (S) all want to market Apple's (AAPL) new wireless products but, so far, AT&T has been the only U.S. cellular provider with that privilege. Now, it appears that all three providers, including AT&T, want to hedge themselves against the future sales of the iPad and the power it brings Apple in the wireless marketplace. Samsung Electronics will launch its new tablet soon, and all three telecoms will market it.

According to Bloomberg, "AT&T and Sprint plan to offer the device, called the Galaxy Tab, for less than Samsung's wholesale price by bundling it with monthly wireless service contracts." It is not clear how Verizon Wireless will market the product. The news service reports that the Galaxy Tab will be launched Sept. 16. It will run the Google (GOOG) Android operating system and have a seven-inch screen.

Many analysts believe Apple may have an insurmountable lead in the tablet business. It was first to market, and the iPad is immensely popular. And the Apple App Store, with its growing number of applications for the iPad, tends to tether the customer to the device because of the huge number of features it can utilize. Samsung will not be able to offer this range of applications to choose from -- at least not soon.

The big winner in the Galaxy Tab launch may be Google. The presence of Android is an indication that another company has decided to move the operating system from smartphones to other forms of hardware. A recent Gartner survey shows that Android will move into the No.2 spot among mobile operating systems, behind Symbian, this year. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is another sign that Android will be a strong presence in the world of consumer electronics.

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