Apple still rules with iPad, where’s the due diligence?

The Samsung Tab is not selling as well as first reported.

Motorola Xoom next to Apple iPad
Motorola Xoom next to Apple iPad
Motorola Xoom next to Apple iPad
Motorola Xoom next to Apple iPad

There’s two ways to look at the recent headlines concerning Samsung’s reporting of its tablet sales. One is to suggest that Samsung did not sell as many 7-inch Tabs as once suspected. In fact, far less than the widely reported 2 million unit figure — at least if you’re counting end consumers as ultimate sales. Maybe Samsung did clearly stipulate these were shipped units only or maybe the tech press just got it wrong and jumped on the Android-is great-bandwagon (which we’ve done more than once ourselves) without doing its due diligence.

Either way the Samsung Tab is not selling as well as first reported by the media.

Computerworld wrote: “Android tablets sales skyrocket, a clear sign that they’ll dominate the iPad.”

According to some stories yesterday Android had shaved 22% off Apple’s market share in just six weeks.

Strategy Analytics estimated in a report that the Apple iPad now only controlled 75% of the market. And that seems patently ridiculous to me — granted, they mostly operate from publicly available information including reports from Samsung which turned out to be misinterpreted (see WSJ retraction, “quite small” wrongly used in place of “quite smooth”). Based on that figure it would mean at least 1 out of every 4 people that owns a tablet own either a Galaxy Tab or some other Android-powered device. While obviously not scientific the eyes don’t lie. Next time you’re on a plane do a quick visual survey. Or at your local Starbucks see how many non-iPad tablets there are out there (amidst our increasingly super grande-sized world). Chances are the real market share number — 95% — will feel right. Sure, it’s anecdotal, but sometimes the — guess who? — eyes have it.

But the other perspective here is the reaffirmation of the unassailable lead that Apple has managed to gain with the iPad in a significant market, and one that appears to be only increasing in size.

Where is the competition?

At CES we saw never-ending headlines about upcoming tablets, most driven by the white-hot Android OS. No doubt they will eventually show. You have to wonder though when else in the history of technology has one company achieved such a wide, early lead in market share. Apple launched the iPad about this time  last year. By the time the most likely competitor such as the Motorola Xoom hits store shelves, the second gen iPad will be just around the corner.

The other concern I have about Android on the tablet is the focus on hardware specs.

I’m all for amped-up iron, but at the end of the day isn’t it the user experience that matters most? Yes, Honeycomb looks great, and I think it will be a success. There are, however, several missing pieces in the Android bid for the mainstream consumer. I’ve said before that Google needs an answer for iTunes. I still believe that to be the case. Also, there are only a handful of apps on Android Market optimized for tablets. In my view, both of these things surely need to change if Android is to legitimately threaten iPad for market supremacy.

Just like smartphones, price may be the ultimate competitive differentiator for Android tablets.

That would likely be a strong move thanks to the open, license free model Google has adopted. The results don’t exactly bear that out in the marketplace… yet. The Samsung Tab was priced around $600 originally, and early reports have the Moto Xoom at approximately $700 (contract free). With the iPad starting at $499, why would consumers pay more for Android?

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  • Where is YOUR due diligence? Your whole article is based on two lies. Lie #1, Samsung never said that. Already the WSJ has issued a retraction. How long before SI does???
    Lie #2 is that Apple does NOT report SOLD units. They report SHIPPED units, just like Samsung. In fact they also said their iPad INVENTORY skyrocketed by 525,000 units and that they now have 4-6 weeks of iPads in inventory… which means most of the iPads that supposedly were SOLD last quarter are actually sitting on store shelves.. Apple said that it shipped 7.331 million iPads over 12 weeks, which works out to about 610,917 units per week. But they have 4-6 weeks in inventory. That amounts between 2.5 million to 3.7 million iPads NOT SOLD but instead sitting in inventory. But instead of the Apple friendly media blasting those Apple numbers onto the airwaves, instead they go after Samsung with a WRONG quote at that. I certainly would like to see how long SI takes to issue a retraction to this terrible and absolutely FALSE article… I bet probably longer that it took them to not verify what they were writting about…

    • I’ve added the WSJ correction (not retraction) to the above article. I don’t think there are lies here, rather it turns out the misunderstanding by WSJ, Engadget and others was based on an error in the transcript provided by Samsung (which they’ve since corrected). Related to Samsung Tab sales, the correct quote was “quite smooth” but wrongly transcribed as “quite small” — not shortage of comic potential there, but not so much for Samsung’s stock. Note that I never suggested that Apple reported differently. But I took issue with the idea that Apple iPad had lost 22% share in just 6 weeks as one analyst firm had reported. Regardless, I still think the iPad is one of the biggest examples of first mover advantage in the history of technology.

    • alan

      In inventory = not shipped. In channel = shipped to 3rd party distributors (this is the 525k number). These count as shipments in reported numbers (same as for tab). But you can work out from 7.3M reported shipped that 6.8~ went to consumers with the other 525k in channel. What is surprising about the Tab is that it has wider distribution than the iPad right now (100 countries, 200 carriers). iPad expanded it’s channel during q4 to include target and some other big name places that drove up the channel inventory. Tab is suspected of “stuffing” the channel to goose up the apparent ship numbers – note they did not release how many are in channel.