Early this morning (or late last night if you want to get technical), Samsung made its quarterly earnings call, and the company's mobile division is doing quite well - profits are up 38%, thanks in large part to the Galaxy S line of phones.

Samsung managed to sell over 10 million Galaxy S handsets in 2010, comprising roughly a third of all the manufacturer's smartphone sales. Given the Galaxy S's global launch along with its premium hardware and fair pricing, it's no surprise that device has been a big hit. But what about the Galaxy Tab?

Since its release, the smallish tablet has received mixed reviews (though our own Aaron Gingrich thoroughly enjoyed it), and given its treatment by some of the major tech blogs, "mixed" is putting it politely:

This thing is just a mess. It's like a tablet drunkenly hooked up with a phone, and then took the fetus swimming in a Superfund cleanup site. The browser is miserable, at least when Flash is enabled. It goes catatonic, scrolling is laggy, and it can get laughably bad. When better browsing is half the reason to go for a larger screen, that's insanity.


So how did the Tab actually fare? Samsung's press release really only mentions the Tab in passing; however, one Korean website has a figure claiming around 2 million Tabs were shipped worldwide during Q4 2010. Key word being "shipped" - Samsung's figure is not the total number of devices in consumer hands, it's the number sent to wholesalers and carriers across the world.

Supposedly, only 500,000 of the 2 million Tabs produced made their way to North American shores, and some of those got lost and ended up in Canada (do Canadians use tablets?). Samsung's VP of communications for the mobile division had this to say about sales of the Tab:

About your question about the sell-in and sell-out. As you have heard,  our sell-in number was quite, you know… aggressive, first quarter unit number was around 2 million. In terms of sell-out, we also believe that it was quite smooth. We believe (that) as for the introduction of new device, it was required to have consumers to understand this new device. So therefore, even though the sell-out wasn’t as fast as we expected, we still believe that sell-out was quite OK. And based on this figure, we think that numbers in 2011 will be quite increased. Based on first quarter of launch in 2010, makes us quite optimistic forecasting this year. We will still have to see, however we are quite positive about sell-in and sell-out, both.

I'll define a couple of terms here: "sell-in" refers to devices sold to wholesalers and carriers for resale, while "sell-out" defines the number of units actually sold to consumers. So what's the rub? Tab sales weren't as great as Samsung had hoped, and they're not going to give up an end consumer sales figure until they're happy with it.

Given the price-slashing bonanza going on with the Tab right now, it seems like Samsung has probably dropped off its shipments of the device in preparation for the Galaxy Tab 2, which will be unveiled on February 13th at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

For a first at-bat in the tablet arena, the Tab was without a doubt leaps and bounds ahead of the unmitigated crapfest that were the Android tablets of 2010. But to call the Tab a "success" is really just drinking the Samsung kool-aid at this point - especially with devices like the XOOM on the way, which makes the Tab look like little more than a giant phone.

Hopefully the Tab 2 will excel where its predecessor could not. Oh, and it better have Honeycomb. Seriously, Samsung - don't ruin what will probably be a perfectly good piece of hardware with an outdated version of Android.

FierceWireless, UnwiredView

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Henry

    When the Galaxy Tab was first announced, I was excited and thought that I had to have one. The Tab convinced me to go ahead with the Vibrant to replace my outdated cellphone. My excitement for the Tab quickly waned due to three things: the repeated promises and delays of FroYo for the Galaxy S phones; the lengthy period between announcement and release of the Tab; and the release of Gingerbread. It is admirable that Samsung is concerned about quality. However, technology advances so quickly that today's new gadgets are practically obsolete out of the box. Not encouraging companies to roll out products ready-or-not, because bad quality can hurt a company's reputation. But to stay ahead of the competition, companies need to think further ahead and step up their development.

  • Aeires

    Gizmodo is an Apple biased site, their review of the Tab was pathetic at best. I'd take everything negative written by them with a huge grain of salt. Personally, I love my Tab. The portability is the reason I bought it, and it's great to use it at work to keep track of things and handle Citrix applications.

  • abee

    "10 million Galaxy S handsets in 2010"

    first thing I thought of... some many with broken GPS

  • Lee

    It's funny how pundits like gizmodo will praise iOS for its many apps, but then turn around and rail on one app (the default browser) and ignore the fact that another free app is available that is several times better (Dolphin HD). If they had just gone to the Android Market problem would have been solved.

  • juniorsgv

    returned mine. pros? cameras, small form factor, drag n drop, free mp3 download apps. the big deal about flash didn't really notice so much difference. and as Lee said Dolphin Browser was a HUGE difference maker, but most people aren't going to know that. negatives? mine would turn off randomnly, freeze, lack of quality apps, or tablet only apps. and fyi i don't see how tablet 2 will change any of this, its only rumored so far to have 2.2.

    • Someone

      There are quality apps already, but they're a little harder to find in the default state.

      If you ever get another Android based device, I would suggest you look at Appbrain, AppAware, or the many review site apps, or maybe even Amazon's store when it's released, etc.

      These filter out most of the fluff, making it easier to find what you're looking for.