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Android leader is impressed with Microsoft commitment

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), like many OEMs, appears relatively sold on Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) innovative Windows reinvention, Windows 8, which launches in October. Despite customer skepticism surrounding the elimination of familiar features and progression to touch-driven interfaces, Samsung showed off a nice lineup of devices powered by Windows 8 at Computex 2012 in Taiwan.

I. The Galaxy Tab Windows Tablet Cometh

Noticeably absent was a tablet.  

Now a report by Bloomberg says that Samsung will not only release a Windows 8 tablet in October, but that it also will be a Windows 8 on ARM (WOA) tablet.  Rumor had it that WOA tablets might not land until after the holiday season.

Windows 8 Samsung tablet
Samsung is rumored to be prepping a Windows 8 ARM tablet for October.

However, there's no real reason to automatically disbelieve that Samsung will indeed have a Windows 8 RT design market-ready at launch.  Windows 8 has been happily running on ARM hardware for over a year now.  And the launch will coincide with mass availability of Samsung's own Exynos 5 and Qualcomm, Inc.'s (QCOMSnapdragon 4 -- two promising system-on-a-chip options for WOA tablets.

Samsung is coming off a reinvigorated calendar Q1 2012 in which iSuppli estimates it captured 11 percent of the tablet market (2.2 million units).  While far behind, Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) industry-leading iPad (11.2 million units, 58 percent of sales), Samsung managed to leapfrog Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) whose budget Kindle Fire device dropped to just over a million units sold (5.8 percent).

II. Windows May Save Samsung From Lawsuits

A switch to a Windows tablet could help relieve Samsung's intellectual property woes.  Sued by Apple, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, its premier model, is currently banned for sale in the U.S., after a federal court ruled that it infringed on this:

Apple D'889 patent
Apple's D'889 patent [Image Source: Google Patents]

...2004 era Apple design patent (U.S. Design Patent D504,889) claiming sole ownership of rectangular tablets.  Design-wise, there are few ways to skirt that patent if it's upheld, aside from either adding unsightly useless extra buttons.  Samsung's Galaxy Nexusalso banned, was targeted by Apple for allegedly ripping off the iPhone's patented design.  Thus adding curves, decals, or metal embellishments does not appear to be novel enough to escape Apple's broad design ownership claims.

Of course, if Samsung switches to Windows 8, it becomes much harder for Apple to sue it.  Microsoft is known for aggressively defending its OEM partners, and it owns a favorable cross-licensing pact with Apple.  The company would likely show little tolerance for Apple trying to bully Windows 8 tablet makers.

On the other hand, Samsung faces danger from its ally, following Microsoft's decision to jump into the world of first-party tablet designs with its sleek Surface.  The 10.6-inch Surface is expected to be the Windows 8 tablet to beat, so Samsung has a tall order of cooking up a device sufficiently thin and full-featured to vie with the Microsoft design for sales.

Microsoft Surface
The Microsoft Surface

Samsung is coming off a strong Q2 2012, despite struggling with a weak European market.

Source: Bloomberg





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