Well, that didn’t take long.
Just weeks after Google decided to buy one if its key rivals, Samsung is set to formally announce its Series 7 Slate, a Core i5-based “slate” that runs Windows 7 and is built to a sleek, elegant two pounds or so and takes on the look or feel of an Android tablet or iPad.
The difference between Samsung’s new product and the tablets, though, is that the Series 7 Slate will have full-on PC performance and, of course, Windows 7. It will also price in the $1,200 ballpark, but that’s not the headline here.
In less than a month since Google announced it would spend $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility – a key Samsung rival that brings reams of conflicts for Google in its relationships with Android OEMs – Samsung has answered with a loud, clear “We don’t necessarily need you,” to the search advertising giant.
Samsung offered us a brief look at its slate earlier this week. While a full, hands-on review will need to wait (the product isn’t yet shipping), it has all the appearance of a blockbuster. It combines the best design traits of a slim, tablet form with the processing, memory and software of a production PC. A wireless keyboard and dock will be optional, and it provides on-board HDMI support so that on a desk it can attach to a stand-alone LCD display for work on a fixed desktop.
The Series 7 Slate will also provide two, separate GUIs: the traditional Windows 7 desktop and, with the touch of button, a launchpad interface that provides the same look and feel as you’d get from an Android tablet or iPad.
Samsung executives wouldn’t bite when asked about integration with and support of Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 – Microsoft’s next OS that will be optimized for touch and have a version targeted at tablets and slates. However, the timing couldn’t be better for Samsung or worse for Google. Samsung is now showing the path away from the Android platform – a platform created by and still largely controlled by Google. While the open-source and gadget geeks among us may shudder at the idea of any path leading back to Microsoft, consider that Microsoft-based slates and tablets will be:
• Devices that have hooks into Microsoft’s Xbox and Xbox Live platforms, with more than 20 million gaming enthusiasts;
• Devices that have hooks into the 700-million-user-strong Skype, which Microsoft is working to finish buying;
• PCs that will enable corporate enterprises to provide full compatibility with corporate application software, utilities, management and infrastructure.
The Series 7 Slate with Windows 7 is a “Wow” device – it’s so attractive that when you hold it, that’s the first thing you think. It certainly should be the first thing Google executives think as they figure out how to integrate Motorola’s Android tablet line without antagonizing Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba and others that have made significant investments in Android and their own relationship with Google.