Someone at Samsung must have been a little red-faced today, when the mobile giant got called on how it reported its figures for the Galaxy Tab. What was originally portrayed as two million units sold turned out to actually be only two million devices shipped — a big difference in terms of how many of those devices were actually getting into the hands of consumers. Yet some would argue that the number of shipped devices can be an adequate enough gauge of market demand. If so, Android has made some incredible headway into this still-new market — with volumes growing 2,000 percent sequentially — even if Apple’s iPad is still on top with a 75 percent market share.
According to figures released today from Strategy Analytics, there were nearly 10 million tablets shipped in Q4 of 2010, representing a rise of 120 percent over the quarter before.
Within that the iPad — being the first mover in this new generation of tablets built like smartphones — had a share of 75 percent. That sounds like a healthy number, except that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) had a 95 percent share of the market just the quarter before. That means Apple saw a very drastic drop of 20 percent in a matter of months.
Strategy Analytics says Apple’s fall was largely down to the rise of the Galaxy Tab, a device that was heavily promoted in dozens of countries, to help Android-based tablets reach an overall 22 percent market share.
But even if these Android devices are gaining ground in terms of shipments, it is hard to judge just how significant that is when you do not have actual sales figures to stand up against them. In the words of the Samsung executive Lee Young-hee, who fielded the analyst’s questions about Tab sales numbers during the results call last week, the Tab had “quite small” sales. Chances are those Android tablet makers won’t want to come clean on actual sales sales numbers until those devices really do start taking off.
What’s likely to have more of an impact on the tablet market is the next year ahead, when a number of new devices from Motorola (NYSE: MOT), LG (SEO: 066570), Samsung, Acer, RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) and many others are expected to go commercial. If Apple can drop 20 percent just from a few early Android tablets, what will happen when the rest of these devices hit the market?