New 8.9-inch Galaxy Tab could join 7- and 10.1-inch models

Press invitation 78910 reference alludes to all three Galaxy screen sizes, observers speculate

Samsung could be prepping an 8.9-inch tablet computer to unveil at a March 22 event in Orlando, based on content in invitations sent to press yesterday and earlier rumors.

The invitation includes an obvious image of a tablet computer, similar to a 7-in. Galaxy Tab already shipping, but without any specs. Samsung announced a 10.1 in. version of the Galaxy Tab last month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Invitation to Samsung press event.

Over the image of the tablet are the words: "What's your TAB life?" and then the number: "78910"

The number could refer to all three models of tablets, including the 7-inch and 10 inch at the ends. The 89 in the middle would refer to a new 8.9 inch model, some observers have speculated.

The rumors of an 8.9-inch Galaxy Tab model first surfaced at the MWC event, and then were reported on some blogs, including Samsung Hub , last month.

Samsung couldn't be reached to comment on speculation about an 8.9-inch tablet.

According to the invitation, J K Shin, Samsung's president of mobile communications, will reveal the "secret behind 78910" at the Samung Mobile Unpacked 2011 event slated for March 22 at the CTIA conference.

"Come discover what the buzz is all about and join us on our journey as we experience a world of endless technological possibility," the invitation says. "We'll unveil our latest mobile products and innovations and explore the exciting new consumer lifestyles they make possible."

Samsung committed to a stronger presence in the U.S. market starting last summer with the unveiling of its Android-based Galaxy S line of smartphones, which are sold by all the major U.S. carriers. The carriers started selling the 7-inch Galaxy Tab as well last fall.

Last December, Samsung claimed it had shipped 2 million Galaxy Tabs, though some observers said customer returns of the devices were high in January.

Apple's iPad tablet, first launched in April, 2010, sold nearly 15 million units in nine months of 2010. On Wednesday, Apple introduced a lighter, faster iPad 2 with two cameras. The new iPad will ship on March 11.

Meanwhile, the Motorola Xoom tablet , which runs the new Android Honeycomb operating system, became available from Verizon Wireless on Verizon Wireless on Feb. 24.

Research in Motion is readying its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet for launch in early April, analysts speculate.

Some analysts have predicted 100 different tablet models will launch worldwide in 2011.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.

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