Tablets are getting bigger -- much bigger.
This month, both Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will release new tablets with enormous screens. Samsung's Galaxy View sports a massive, 18.4-inch display. Apple's iPad Pro is comparatively smaller, at 12.9 inches, but will still be the largest tablet in the Cupertino tech giant's history. Given the competition between the two firms, their latest devices may be seen as direct competitors, but they're really radically different products, aimed at two totally different segments.
A tablet that can replace your TV
With the Galaxy View, Samsung is putting a new spin on the category, hoping to convince some consumers to consider a tablet in place of a traditional TV. The Galaxy View includes a built in kickstand, allowing the device to be propped up on a table or a desk, and a custom Android interface that prioritizes streaming services. Samsung has opted for modest specs, with a middle-of-the-road processor and a 1080p display. That's more than good enough for streaming Internet video, but it limits its ability to serve as a productivity device -- it's not intended to replace a traditional PC.
At $600, it's about four times as expensive as similar-sized TVs, but offers unmatched portability and a built-in battery. And with consumers increasingly turning to Internet video, the Android platform is enticing; the Google Play app store offers access to more content than any smart TV platform. The Galaxy View may not be for everyone, but those in the market for a small, portable TV (perhaps for the kitchen, boat, or RV) could find it useful.
A new iPad for enterprise
The iPad Pro is smaller, more expensive, and considerably more powerful than Samsung's Galaxy View. It doesn't include a kickstand, and while it could double as a makeshift TV, that's not the device's intended use. The iPad Pro is a productivity powerhouse -- its A9X processor is on par with many of the chips found in traditional PCs. It's capable of editing 4K video, and it interfaces with two accessories -- Apple's Apple Pencil smart stylus and the Smart Keyboard -- for additional functionality.
Starting at $799, it's priced competitively with many Windows laptops, and that's the market Apple may be courting, particularly among business users. On the company's most recent earnings call, CEO Tim Cook noted Apple's rapidly growing enterprise business. Over the last 12 months, enterprise customers generated $25 billion of Apple's revenue. That amounts to a little over 10%, but it's growing rapidly -- enterprise sales rose 40% on an annual basis in 2015. In the past, Apple's management has highlighted the iPad's appeal to businesses. With the iPad Pro, Apple appears to be offering them a more portable alternative to a Windows laptop.
Reigniting tablet demand
But the iPad Pro and the Galaxy View do have one thing in common: They're an innovative way to drum up additional tablet sales.
Both Samsung and Apple have suffered from declining tablet demand in recent months. For seven consecutive quarters, iPad sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis each quarter. Samsung doesn't break its tablet sales out in its quarterly earnings, but IDC's shipment data provides some insight. According to the research firm, shipments of Samsung's tablets declined 12% on an annual basis in the second quarter this year, and 17.1% in the third quarter.
Apple and Samsung remain the first- and second-largest tablet vendors, respectively, but their dominance is receding. In the third quarter, they collectively shipped 36.8% of the world's tablets, down from 39.5% a year ago. The Galaxy View and the iPad Pro could help reverse that trend.
Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.