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.