Samsung Tab Ships Big, But Apple’s iPad Sells

A week after launch, Samsung, maker of the Galaxy Tab, announced more than 600,000 units had been sold. In early December, that number climbed to more than a million, and in January, reached two million. In comparison, the iPad (s appl) sold 3.2 million units in its first quarter, and 7.3 million during the holiday quarter. While still out in front, it appeared the first major Android (s goog) tablet was seriously impacting iPad market share.

Today, Strategy Analytics crunched the numbers and came to the same conclusion. According to Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, “Android tablet volumes experienced 2000 percent sequential growth and its global marketshare soared to a record 22 percent in Q4 2010.” The Samsung Galaxy Tab was largely responsible for that market share success, which also saw the iPad fall from 95 to 75 percent market share.

Unfortunately for Samsung, that’s not what really happened.

The Wall Street Journal (s nws) reports on what appears to be the willful conflation of tablets shipped with tablets sold as reported by Samsung. Pressed by analysts at a conference call on Friday, Samsung executive Lee Young-hee was forced to admit the actual number of Galaxy Tabs sold to consumers was “quite small,” the larger reported numbers actually representing units shipped to points of sale like carriers. No number of actual Tabs sold was provided, though Lee admitted that sales were not “as fast as we expected,” but still “OK,” and that Samsung was “quite optimistic” about sales in 2011. However, Lee refused to offer any projections or solid figures.

News of the Tab’s limited success doesn’t mean Apple is in the clear. The Motorola Xoom (s mmi) will be the first Android tablet to run Google’s tablet optimized version of the OS, dubbed Honeycomb, and will be launched this quarter. Also launched this quarter will be the BlackBerry PlayBook (s rimm) running QNX. HP(s hpq), which has an event scheduled next week, is also expected to announce 7-inch and 10-inch tablets running webOS, possibly for sale this quarter. Of course, the iPad 2 is widely expected to be unveiled in the spring, too.

It appears that 2011 will indeed be the year of the tablet, but with the revelation of the Galaxy Tab’s slow start, and in light of Apple’s strong kick-off to its 2011 financial year, it’s still starting out as the year of the iPad.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):