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Summary:

Is it possible that a tablet that’s not selling well in the U.S. is thriving and selling millions outside the country? Sure. But the more likely explanation boils down to the problem with reporting numbers of products shipped versus sold.

Galaxy Tab is half the size of iPad

Apple isn’t the only one that’s had to reveal secrets in the course of its patent infringement trial with Samsung. A report submitted as evidence shows Samsung’s actual U.S. sales of the Galaxy Tab — and they’re really low compared to the worldwide sales the company has been reporting.

For example, in December 2010, the first quarter Samsung’s tablet launched, it announced it had sold 1 million units worldwide. According to court documents AllThingsD and CNET published yesterday, Samsung sold 262,000 in the U.S. Back in December 2010, it was reported that 100,000 Tabs were sold in Samsung’s home market in South Korea. But even at the time we wondered where the rest of the 900,000 sales were going. If 262,000 were in the U.S., that leaves more than 600,000 sales unaccounted for. And if they weren’t selling in the U.S., the world’s largest tablet market, well, where did they go?

The discrepancy in numbers occurs again in the second quarter of 2012. A research report from IDC last week showed Samsung sold 2.3 million Galaxy Tabs worldwide. The court documents show that in the U.S., between April and June, Samsung sold 37,000 units. (Yes, there was an injunction issued on sales of the Tab 10.1, but it wasn’t until the very end of the quarter.)

Is it possible that a tablet that’s not selling well in the U.S. is thriving and selling millions outside the country? Sure. But the more likely explanation boils down to the problem with reporting numbers of products shipped versus sold. It comes up over and over again. Does selling to a retailer count as “sold” if the product sits on a shelf in a store instead of in the hands of a customer?

This same evidence also sheds light on Apple’s internal sales numbers. They show Apple has sold 166 million iOS devices in its home country since 2007 (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch). Apple’s reported around 400 million total iOS sales worldwide. That means 334 million, or about 58 percent were sold somewhere outside the U.S. As Apple has reported, in 2012, its international business accounts for somewhere between 58 percent and 64 percent of its sales — so it adds up.

Even though the numbers don’t reveal anything embarrassing for Apple, the entire exercise of this trial has forced open Apple’s very secret world of product design and marketing. From pre-production prototypes of the iPad, to internal company emails about plans for a smaller iPad, and clues into the company’s culture, Apple has made a huge tradeoff in being a part of this litigation.

Samsung has also had embarrassing internal documents and conversations revealed during the trial. But while Apple shouts about its sales numbers every quarter, Samsung very purposely does not talk about devices sales figures at all anymore. The company only reveals percentages of device sales improvement. So, these latest numbers revealing Samsung’s uninspiring tablet sales in the U.S. is probably just as painful for the company as Apple’s prototype photos being pasted all over the web.

  1. 400 million minus 166 million equals 234 million…..

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  2. 1. Original Galaxy Tabs:
    You people in the US really need to realize it’s a big world out there. Why the hell would you assume the US would have more than 50% of the entire market?! It may be the single biggest market (not sure even of that nowadays with the Chinese market growing), but it probably doesn’t command any more than 25% of the total global market. Not for international companies, anyway. Apple has roughly 40% of its iOS sales in the US according to your numbers, and Samsung is obviously much, much stronger in other countries than the US. This all means that the figures DO add up: 600,000 for Europe, China and other smaller markets makes perfect sense.

    2. Please read your own links more carefully. IDC reported total tablet sales for Samsung for this past quarter, the vast majority of which would be the newer models. 37,000 is only for the older models. You might as well claim the SGS3 is a failure because the SGS1 variants only sold some tens of thousands this past quarter.

    3. The difference between shipped and sold is irrelevant, no one is gonna stock thousands of surplus devices. As you say, the issue comes up over and over again and is as dumb and meaningless each time, particularly for flagship devices. Samsung has admitted it can barely meet demand for the SGS3, so practically every unit shipped is eventually sold.
    Please oh please, tech blogs, stop bringing this up.

    4. The so-called Apple “secrets” revealed are hardly surprising for anyone with a little common sense. They just do what everyone else does, except they won’t admit it. They take inspiration from competing companies, analyze competing products, do market surveys, play around with prototypes. Basically there is nothing “magical” about their design process, they simply do a good job with it. You may argue they do it better than anyone else, but the process is essentially the same as anyone else out there.

    To wrap it up, this article could really do well with less blatant bias (most notably the headline and sub-headline) and more careful observation of the facts. On a similar note, forgive my directness, but having a dedicated reporter for a single company is unprofessional at best, unless that’s how you classify your blog in the first place. You cannot avoid losing sight of the bigger picture when this is how you go about things.

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    1. #4 in particular rings true to me…

      The tech world is enthralled by seeing that Apple follows the exact same iterative design process as essentially everyone else on earth.

      Not a day goes by without “Apple prototype drawing shows iPod text…”, “Deep Dive: iPhone bezel color from prototype to production”.

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  3. The “bigger picture” is that based on court documents, Samsung lies and cheats. That’s your “bigger picture”, right there.

    Furthermore, what makes you think there is any chance such tablets could sell anywhere in the world? People aren’t stupid, no matter where they live.

    There rest of your claims are Android fanboi delusions, especially as it pertains to Apple’s design and development. Pot calling the kettle black. Android and its devices are all stolen products. Head to toe.

    As for the US, it is the most important, defining market for high tech. It is what everyone looks at. If it doesn’t work in the US, chances are it’s a dog everywhere else too.

    Have a good one, now.

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    1. Care to support any of your wild conjectures with a single piece of evidence?

      My numbers are supported by the various analyst reports. Go ahead and compare the US numbers to the worldwide ones, such as phones here: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23638712
      The huge discrepancy between Samsung and Apple’s shares in the US and worldwide can only be explained by the fact that as I said, the US market cannot be more than around 25% at most (rough, but rather generous estimate) of Samsung’s sales. If it were, using Apple’s own numbers, we would reach drastically different market shares worldwide.
      In terms of raw number of potential customers, there are an estimated 500 million people in the EU alone. That’s not even all of Europe. Add to that over 100 million in Japan and Korea, and you get at least double the US numbers, and that’s only in developed countries. Keep adding BRIC, etc., and you see why my point actually does makes a lot of sense.

      I won’t get into the other details because you are obviously trolling, I figured I’d counter this one point because the article pretty much revolves around it.
      I wish you a blissfully ignorant life with your mostly-Samsung-made iPad (screen, SoC…). Even Apple knows who to turn to when they need quality technology.

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      1. You do know analyst numbers are only tentatively linked to reality, right? They do their best, of course, but since most companies prefer to keep actual sales pretty close to their chest, the analyst numbers are assumptions on top of assumptions.

        As to how big the world is, the world of people who can afford to drop $500+ as an early-adopter for new type of computing device is not all that big. I could see reason behind an argument that tablet market share estimates are undercounting no-name crap being sold in China and S/SE Asia, but not Samsung.

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      2. To aepxc:
        I would be the first to doubt analyst numbers in most cases, but when they are backed up by official statements, I see them as rough guidelines. In this case, Apple’s numbers are official, and Samsung’s numbers can be estimated fairly well using their official data on flagship sales (milestone announcements), their past official data (until about a year ago), their official numbers on growth, and most notably their earnings reports.
        Let’s examine it:
        Q4 2010: $10.7 billion revenue for mobile worldwide, with US revenues of $915 million phones and $154 million tablets. That puts the US market at around 10% for that quarter. Extrapolating from the 262,000 tablets sold in the US, assuming an even division of revenue, would get us to about 2.5 million worldwide in 2010 alone. This result leads me to believe Samsung’s claimed numbers of 1.5 million.

        http://www.bgr.com/2011/01/28/samsung-reports-q4-earnings-revenue-and-income-grow-profit-slides/
        http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1286669/Apple_v_Samsung_US_sales_numbers.pdf

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      3. “Care to support any of your wild conjectures with a single piece of evidence?”

        The Samsung Blade, the Samsung Blackjack?

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      4. Take your head out of where it is.

        All of Samsung’s numbers reported by what seems like paid shills are a misrepresntation at best, and a lie at worst.

        The actual numbers released at the trial are pitiful and show how off anything the paid shills say is meant to push Android and its disciples in sales territories they most likely will never be, especially following the release of iOS 6, iPhone 5, etc. etc. etc…

        Here’s your reality check:

        http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/08/10/apple-sold-5-7-million-tablets-in-the-u-s-last-quarter-court-documents-show-samsung-sold-37000/

        And another:

        http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/08/apple-lifts-curtain-on-ipod-touch-sales-figures-for-the-first-time/

        The iPod touch alone sells more than most of Samsung’s leading devices.

        It’s not even funny. Give it up.

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      5. Joe, I seriously hope you are only playing dumb and trolling, otherwise I feel quite sorry for you.

        The reality check is that all those comparisons are only for the accused models. In the case of tablets, the accused models are not even on sale via proper channels anymore. Samsung replaced the entire lineup, you are welcome to go to their site and compare. Hint: You won’t find any of the accused devices there at all.
        Conclusion: 37,000 is leftovers from discontinued devices, which bear absolutely no relation to the sales of current devices.

        This is also relevant regarding their phones, though to a much lesser degree. You will notice though that the Galaxy Nexus and SGS3, the 2 most recent flagship phones, are not listed, meaning that the total phone data is heavily skewed as well.

        If you still fail to comprehend this simple issue, you are clearly beyond help.

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    2. you need to get out more. Tech and trend are defined in Asian markets waaaaaaay ahead of North American or European. Ever been to Tokyo? Fashion and tech are created and found there daily. Whats popular there is still years away from hitting the north American market. I’m so glad your not my financial adviser. I’m just sayin.

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  4. Samsung lying as usual, many have pointed out over last two years that Samsung numbers were not legit, I guest they were right. Samsung is a fraud.

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    1. Octavian Ristea Sunday, August 12, 2012

      I think Samsung is lying in this case. A product isn’t “sold” if it just sits in a retailer’s shop. Personally the only tablet I would buy right now other then the iPad would be the Nexus 7 http://appreviews4u.com/2012/07/24/now-you-can-own-a-nexus-7-tablet-launched-by-google/

      Even so I don’t think the Nexus 7 can compare to the iPad. Might as well shell out $250 more bucks and get yourself a real tablet.

      The only problem I have with this is that then you might as well shell out more cash and buy yourself an ultrabook. The only thing I use computers and iPhone now is for productivity. Maybe if you enjoy playing games on the iPad you might consider one over a tablet, but I think tablets are a bit of a waste. For the price of an iPad you can build an 8 core gaming computer/server :D Anyways that’s my thinking behind tablets

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