SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co launched an upgraded version of its Galaxy tablet in its lucrative home market on Wednesday, seeking to stem the runaway success of Apple Inc's iPad.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1, the sequel of the 7-inch Tab introduced in October, is the latest push by the company to challenge the iPad. Apple's iPad sold 14 million units in the first half of this year, compared with analysts' sales estimates of about 7.5 million for the Tab for 2011, the iPad's biggest competitor.
"As our smartphone business grew very fast within a very short period of time, I believe it's just a matter of time for our tablet business to improve," J.K. Shin, head of Samsung' mobile division, told reporters.
Samsung has emerged as Apple's nearest rival in the booming mobile device industry as it leverages its cost competitiveness and access to chips and core tablet components.
It has sharply narrowed the gap with Apple in the smartphone market, but however remains a distant second in the tablet market, which Garner forecasts will surge to 108 million devices next year from an estimated 70 million in 2011.
The sale of the Tab in Korea is Samsung's fifth global launch after its U.S. debut a month ago and its sales kickoff in Indonesia, where the company says it commands a 65 percent market share. It has also launched the device in Italy and Sweden.
Pricing for the new product, slightly thinner and lighter than iPad 2, starts from $500 in the U.S. market, the same price as the iPad 2.
Blockbuster sales of the iPhone, iPad and strong Asian business again helped Apple crush Wall Street's expectations for its third-quarter results on Tuesday. Apple said concern over iPad 2 supply constraints eased and demand was still overstripping supply in some markets.
Samsung reiterated on Wednesday it aimed to boost tablet sales by more than five fold this year. It didn't provide specific numbers but analysts expect the company to have sold about 1.5 million units last year.
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Anshuman Daga)