Kanye West helps launch Samsung's Galaxy Note II

TecTile Near Field Communication (NFC) app gets update also

Samsung announced a new version of it TecTile mobile app, which programs NFC chips for devices like the new Galaxy Note II. Image: Matt Hamblen NEW YORK - Samsung officially launched the 5.5-in. Galaxy Note II at an elaborate event in New York City on Wednesday night featuring performer Kanye West, following weeks of pre-release disclosures on the device.

The Note II, a mix of a smartphone and a tablet with an improved digital stylus called the S Pen, will sell for $300 on Sprint starting Thursday with a two-year contract and for the same price on AT&T starting Nov. 9.

T-Mobile USA will sell it for $370 after a $50 rebate and a contract. (Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular will also sell it, Samsung said, but prices and launch dates aren't known.)

Samsung officials noted that the original Note device quickly sold 10 million copies, despite plenty of initial ridicule from reviewers and analysts. "People were perplexed," said Kevin Packingham, chief product officer for Samsung Mobile U.S.

"It didn't get rave reviews right off the bat."

Earlier in the day, Samsung also released version 3.0 of its TecTile mobile app on the Google Play store. The app, first released four months ago, works with NFC-ready stickers that can be programmed from an NFC-ready phone to contain information that can later be used to automate functions on NFC smartphones.

Analysts see TecTile stickers, sold for $14.95 for a package of five by wireless carriers and at Samsung.com, as a more elaborate form of QR code. An NFC smartphone can be brought close to read the sticker's data to do things like turning on the phone's Bluetooth and launching apps.

Officials at the launch event said the sticker can even be used to transmit a text message to a phone.

Or, it could be used like a QR code on a retail kiosk to transmit information about products to a shopper's smartphone

The new 3.0 version includes the ability to lock the information stored on the sticker so it can't be changed, or it can be left unlocked for future re-writes.

Analysts at the Wednesday event said it's not clear how quickly TecTile stickers will catch on, given they are more expensive than QR code stickers, which use the optical scanning capability of a phone to transmit data. A TecTile sticker has more flexibility for programming and can store more data, however, Samsung said.

The TecTile sticker is an example of how Samsung is trying to innovate, and also to show how its innovation has made it the largest maker of phones globally and in the U.S.

The Galaxy Note II launch, attended by hundreds of journalists and analysts, was nonetheless anticlimactic following weeks of reports on the device's features and functions.

After several days of using the device, Computerworld blogger JR Raphael said in his review he liked the display and the responsiveness of the stylus, but he didn't like the size and the interface.

Samsung's event showed the manufacturer is willing to spend heavily to promote its devices such as the popular Galaxy S III smartphone and the Note II. In addition to bringing West to the event, Samsung has begun TV promotions with NBA basketball starLebron James, a Miami Heat forward.

Samsung officials also said they have put $35 billion into an "innovation pipeline" for research and development of new devices in coming years.

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

Tags Googleconsumer electronicsat&tAndroidhardware systemssmartphonestabletsT-Mobile USAU.S. Cellular

More about GalaxyGoogleNBANFCQRSamsungSprintT-MobileT-MobileTopicVerizonVerizonVerizon WirelessWest

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