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Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 preorder is pricey

In child psychology there’s a concept called the middle child syndrome, where the kid in-between feels unloved by the parents or jealous of attention given the older and younger siblings. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 might just be that middle child. I’m not loving it.

Best Buy has started taking preorders for the tablet nestled between Tab 7/7.7 and 10.1 and for surprising price: $469.99 for the 16GB model, or just $30 less than the 10.1. From a price perspective, Best Buy isn’t giving buyers much reason to choose Tab 8.9 over 10.1, other than smaller size. But is it really small enough for the price?

I’ve yet to handle one — hey, it is only preorder — so can’t make the most important comparison to Tab 10.1. But given just how thin and light is the larger tablet (which I am using), it’s hard to see the benefits of an 8.7 inch tablet for 470 bucks when the bigger one is just $30 more.

There’s an art to product pricing, which Apple has refined to a science. Competing iPad 2 is good example. Apple differentiates iPad by storage capacity and wireless capabilities. WiFi-only models sell for $499 (16GB), $599 (32GB) and $699 (64GB). The same capacity models with 3G radios sell for $629, $729 and $829, respectively. The price move up from the entry model is $100 or $130 depending on whether 3G or more storage matters more.

A $399.99-priced Tab 8.7 would make more sense compared to $499.99 Tab 10.1. The larger cost gulf creates more value for both products, while making the 8.7 more affordable for more buyers. Affordability in a smaller tablet should be bigger priority.

Samsung and its retail partners should take a cold, hard look at what happened to Research in Motion. Yesterday, RIM reported that BlackBerry PlayBook shipments declined from 500,000 to 200,000 over three months. Playbook packs a 7-inch display, smaller than iPad 2’s 9.7 inches, but selling for the same price. Similarly, TouchPad flopped at 500 bucks, and HP killed the product after just six-weeks of sales, selling off remaining inventory for the Crazy Eddie price of $99.99 a piece.

Simply stated: Best Buy will find that, for most shoppers, $470 will be too high a price for an 8.7-inch tablet. Consider that Amazon is expected to launch an Android tablet at any time. I’m expecting a price of around $200 (even $250) — the same price as the Lenovo A1. The Samsung tablet has Android 3.1, which is advantage over the A1’s v2.3, But the price is right: $199.99.

Then there is the Motorola XOOM, which Amazon has in the WiFi configuration and 32GB of storage for $449.99. The tablet supports Android 3.2, too!

I do believe there is a market for an 8.7-inch tablet, and Samsung’s model packs pretty much all the capabilities of its larger sibling, including 1080p video playback, but in smaller size. It’s purse gear. But it’s not that appealing for $469.99, WiFi-only and no 3G radio.

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