For nearly two years I have been like a broken record: I simply never believed the numbers Samsung was supposedly selling in terms of tablets. Worse still, having put out a single unofficial number before switching to ‘percent improvement in shipments’, groups like the IDC and Gartner grabbed the initial number and then just applied the percent increase.
This played out again last week in the numbers reported by the IDC showing that Samsung held the #2 tablet slot with 9.6% market share with ~2.4 million units sold. I like the Samsung tablets pretty well and they have created a hard-earned and well-deserved smartphone business … so why not?!?
The problem? According to court documents released in the never-ending side-show that is the Apple vs. Samsung trial, either Samsung sold 98.75% of those tablets outside the US … or those numbers are totally bogus.
Given that the US is recognized as the largest single market for tablets, it is pretty clear which is more likely. In fact, the same court documents show that Apple sold 5.7 million tablets in the US during the same time period.
There are two major issues here – Samsung and the reporting analysts.
- Regarding Samsung, they talked about actual numbers in the first few months the original Galaxy Tab was available, and mentioned 1 million and 2 million numbers for sales. It seems clear that those numbers are at least puffery if not outright lies at this point. In fact, the Lenovo claim that Samsung sold 20,000 in the timeframe they reported 1 million seems even more reasonable now than when I reported it back early in 2011.
- Also about Samsung, it is clear WHY they are doing this: market positioning. They are the top smartphone seller in the world, and are trying to dominate tablets as well. Therefore dumping into the channel, making up numbers, and so on are all a way to try to establish market share – and they have legions of anti-Apple supporters to help them out by parroting whatever they say. Also, allowing themselves to be behind Amazon’s single low-end tablet is embarrassing … so whynot just make claims that put you back in 2nd?
- Finally, it is clear that the IDC/Gartner/ whatever analysts system is BROKEN. I mean, these guys are off by TWO ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE! According to their reports, Apple sold ~7x as many iPads as Samsung sold tablets … but in the US alone it is more like 200x! While Samsung likely did pretty well elsewhere, other data indicates that the 60/40 world/US market split is common across smartphones and tablets alike.
- We don’t know what to make of any of the other numbers, but we are faced with two possibilities: either Samsung is about the 5th or 6th place tablet maker … or NONE of the other numbers are correct. And if we assume everyone else is accurate, Apple has 75% of the market and Amazon is back at #2.
This is pretty important – we know that Apple sold 5.7 million in Q2, and Samsung has sold less than 1 million FOREVER. Do we REALLY believe that Samsung is behind everyone else? I certainly don’t. This would seem to indicate that the iPad share is even HIGHER than 75%!
What do you think about all of this?