Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1A lot has been made of the fact that no tablets in the same size range as the iPad and iPad 2 have been able to crack the $499 price point that Apple begins its models at.  With the official announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 yesterday, all of that changed, and the Tablet War that we have all been predicting for ages appears to have officially begun.

Up until now we have seen tablet after tablet come to market that looks intriguing, only to have our hopes and dreams dashed by exorbitant prices.  While they seemed sensible to some, the key sticking point has always been the mainstream consumer who doesn’t pour over every tech spec like those of us who write and read tech blogs do.  If you put two tablets in front of someone that are even somewhat similar, and you tell them one is cheaper by a few hundred dollars and its a brand that they know like Apple, of course they’ll go with the iPad.

With all that being said, Samsung has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet with its Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 being priced at $488 for a 16GB Wi-Fi version.  The $11 price difference isn’t the kicker here, it’s just the fact that someone finally got in the same range as Apple.  When you also take into account that it has a microSD slot, something that people have been complaining the iPad lacks, and that that could mean up to an additional 32GBs of storage, you see that Samsung really did go for the throat when it came to this release.

White iPad 2At last we have a skirmish in the Tablet War that will be determined by preference of operating system rather than price.  Apple will, of course, still be running its familiar iOS system, and Samsung will be putting its TouchWiz skin over Android 3.0 Honeycomb.  Both devices are running dual-core processors, so that won’t be a factor, but the 10.1 will have better cameras, especially in the front facing side of things (a 2 megapixel vs. iPad 2’s VGA).

The big drawback here is the Galaxy Tab 10.1 isn’t due until this summer, and that gives Apple a lot of time to sell several million more iPads and to get a heck of a lot of advertising out there in front of consumers.  There is also the rather unwieldy name.  Again, this is an aspect that plays into the mainstream consumer part of the equation, but it’s a heck of a lot simpler to say and remember “iPad” than it is with “Galaxy Tab 10.1”.  And they will indeed need to remember that 10.1 because lets not forget there is also the 8.9 coming out at roughly the same time.

At the end of the day, I can still see the iPad 2 winning this battle without much trouble, but I do see Apple’s marketshare decreasing.  There is also a very large potential for more tablets to enter the arena in the same price range, eroding Apple’s market dominance even further.  This is a market that is still in its infancy, and there are bound to be shifts in who leads it over time, but at long last we are seeing a tablet that appears to be the first true contender, it shall be interesting to see how all of it shakes out.

What do you think?  Does Apple finally have a true pretender to the throne in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1?