Aussie Court Gives Samsung Galaxy Tab The All-Clear But Is It Too Late?

A reversal of fortunes, of sorts, for Samsung in its ongoing case against Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in Australia: today, an appeals court unanimously decided that it can go ahead with sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, possibly as soon as Friday. But even with sales getting the all-clear, some analysts seem to have already written off the device as an also-ran.

The vote, from an appeals court in Sydney, should not come as too much of a surprise: during hearings last week, the three judges on the appeals bench indicated a strong leaning in the direction of Samsung in the case, with one judge questioning initial rulings by Justice Annabelle Bennett as unfair to Samsung and too in favor of Apple.

Apple had originally succeeded in getting an injunction on the device, and now has until Friday afternoon to try to get a stay on the order, which would over-ride the appeal.

But even if Apple does not succeed in getting that stay — there are already questions over whether Samsung’s Android-based device may have missed its window of opportunity in the wider market.

Despite injunctions in two countries — Germany and Australia — the device has not exactly been the killer best-seller, or even marketing juggernaut, that Samsung had hoped would dent the stronghold that Apple has over the tablet market at the moment.

Forrester’s research from yesterday on the tablet market pointed out that at the moment consumers in the U.S., currently the biggest tablet market, are most interested in the iPad (61 percent); followed by Amazon’s tablet (24 percent); with Samsung’s tablets coming in third (21 percent). That put Samsung just five percentage points ahead a tablet that is no longer being made (the TouchPad from HP (NYSE: HPQ), at 16 percent).

Song Myung-sub, an analyst at HI Investment & Securities in Seoul, speaking to Reuters, thinks that accolade should be reserved for the Kindle Fire from Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), a low-cost Android-based tablet that has yet to launch anywhere but the U.S.:

“Apple will continue to dominate the tablet market as Amazon appears to be the only viable threat at the moment and other vendors, including Samsung, continue to struggle.”

Apple has been suing Samsung in Australia over patent and design violations, claiming that its larger Galaxy Tab tablet, which was due to debut in Australia months ago, was a ripoff of its iPad. Samsung is also lodging claims against Apple for patent violations of its own. In all there are 10 countries now where the two are sparring, including Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Japan, Korea and the U.S.

Today’s news in Australia, at the very least, should serve to bolster Samsung’s public image, however, as it continues to fight its legal battles against Apple elsewhere.

Just yesterday, Apple returned to the German courts to try to extend its tablet injunction on Samsung’s newest Galaxy Tab, the 10.1N, which Samsung claims circumvents the patents in question in the existing case. That case will get heard next month, extending the lag for selling the Galaxy Tab even further in a key market for Samsung.