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British company

Forrester Research analyst J.P. Gownder said a hit smartphone traditionally hasn’t led buyers to get a tablet from the same manufacturer. He believes Samsung will get a bigger boost from its new mini-stores inside U.S. Best Buy locations. Having a retail environment it can control bridges some of the gap with Apple, which has its own stores.

“Whether you buy it online or in person, people want to touch and feel these products,” Gownder said.

Samsung has declined to challenge the iPad on screen resolution. The new tablets have the same resolution as older models, leaving them well behind the iPad and even Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone. The 10-inch tablet has a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, compared with 1920 by 1080 for the phone. The smartphone packs in three times more detail in a square inch than the tablet does. (The 8-inch Tab 3 does, however, have a slightly higher screen resolution than the iPad Mini, the closest Apple equivalent.)

Analyst Jeff Orr at ABI Research said that the new Samsung tablets aren’t “groundbreaking in any particular direction,” it shows the South Korean company is honing a strategy that’s been successful in smartphones: producing a wide variety of devices for different customer segments.

“Samsung has certainly shown how that can be accomplished with handsets, and I see more of that occurring now with the Galaxy Tab 3 announcement,” Orr said.

With the new models, Samsung will have five tablets on sale in the U.S., compared to two at Apple. In addition, Samsung sells the Galaxy Note II, a phone-tablet crossover device.

The 10-inch model is the first Android-powered Samsung tablet to use an Intel processor. That’s a significant win for the Santa Clara, Calif., chipmaker, which has been trying to break into the market for cellphone and tablet chips now that PC sales are slumping. Other smartphones and tablets run chips made by a variety of companies, all based on designs from ARM Holdings PLC, a British company.

Finance the cash component

The big question surrounding the communications industry is whether partnerships and mergers are good not just for businesses, but also for the customers. Opponents of mergers say they lead to fewer jobs, less competition and higher prices. But analysts on Monday said that a potential Dish-Sprint merger may pose a greater challenge to AT&T and Verizon, which dominate the wireless industry and charge higher prices for their phone plans.

As the No. 3 cellphone service provider, with 56 million subscribers nationwide, Sprint Nextel has struggled to catch up with larger rivals. It is expected to face even more competition as the parent company of T-Mobile USA, Deutsche Telekom, moves closer to a multibillion-dollar agreement to buy MetroPCS.

Dish Network said it would finance the cash component of the takeover through a combination of $17.3 billion in cash and debt financing.

Sprint said in a statement that it would look at Dish’s proposal, but declined to comment further on its plans. “Sprint Nextel today confirmed it has received an unsolicited proposal from Dish Network to acquire the company,” said Roni Singleton, a Sprint spokeswoman. “The company said that its board of directors will evaluate this proposal carefully and consistent with its fiduciary and legal duties. The company does not plan to comment further until the appropriate time.”

Mr. Ergen said his company would be as a better fit for Sprint than SoftBank because it would bring greater benefits to consumers. Fourteen million Dish Network subscribers would get improved services on their cellphones, and shareholders would own 32 percent of the combined company, whereas Softbank’s merger is essentially a cash infusion to strengthen Sprint.

Microsoft

Why Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Shames the PC Industry.

On June 18, Microsoft (MSFT) beckoned 200 or so members of the media to a grimy, industrial part of Hollywood for what it described as a can’t-miss affair. Dutiful reporters met at the appointed hour—3:30 p.m.—at a film and art studio Microsoft had rented out and emptied for the day. While beads of sweat formed on the foreheads of the people waiting to get in, aspiring actresses walked by in tight jeans and high heels on their way to a T-Mobile commercial casting call at the building next door.

Microsoft usually begs for attention. On this day, it played the cool maestro. In fact, the company played the Apple (AAPL) role, using pomp, circumstance, and constructed anticipation to make us believe that something really fantastic would appear. Perhaps the whole thing worked: Something that did seem rather fantastic arrived at about 4:20 p.m. It was the Surface tablet—a computer that had all its software and hardware made by Microsoft. In that moment, Microsoft became not just a competitor to Apple but also a rival to such longtime PC manufacturing partners as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL), and Acer (2353:TT).

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, tried his best to soften this affront to the company’s partners. When he arrived in 1980, he said, Microsoft’s best-selling product was the SoftCard, a hardware device that would plug into Apple computers so they could run extra software. “Let’s take a little bit of a look back at the role of hardware at Microsoft,” Ballmer said, as a marketing video spun up to show mice, keyboards, and, of course, the Xbox.

Let’s be clear, though: Microsoft making hardware is not a natural action. It’s what the company does in times of desperation. With the release of Windows 8 looming, Microsoft was indeed desperate for a hardware company to do something to blunt Apple’s runaway tablet machine. The Surface tablet represents an indictment of the entire PC and device industry, which has stood by for a couple of years trying to mimic Apple with a parade of hapless, copycat products.