updated 01:20 pm EDT, Sat September 3, 2011
Lenovo believes early Samsung GTab sales very low
Lenovo's Western Europe consumer product director Andrew Barrow leveled a significant accusation against Samsung at IFA on Friday. He claimed that, of Samsung's million Galaxy Tabs shipped through its first two months in 2010, only 20,000 had actually been sold. While he didn't say whether this was based on inside knowledge or just an estimate, the executive told The Guardian that Samsung was effectively channel stuffing, or shipping far more than it could realistically sell, to make it appear that the Galaxy Tab was more of a competitor to the iPad than it was at the time.
"We [at Lenovo] don't feel the need to buy share from Apple," Barrow said. "If the product sells, it sells."
The figure would be extremely low. Little question exists that Samsung didn't sell as many Galaxy Tabs as it shipped, given a complete lack of shortages and queues, but most analysts and other observers still believe Samsung would have sold at least a few hundred thousand. The Korean firm itself inadvertently stoked rumors when many thought they had heard the company say that real, end-user sell-through was "quite small" and came back to say that its results were actually "quite smooth."
The company nonetheless has a problem with reporting shipments versus sales. It took three million Galaxy S II pre-orders but, unusually, went on to report three million sales in 55 days. If consistent, it would have had either a minimum two-month backlog of demand or else large numbers of customers cancelling pre-orders as on-the-spot buyers came in.
Many retailers are willing to tolerate a significant amount of overstock, but severe problems usually get reported quickly. When only 25,000 HP TouchPads sold at Best Buy out of 270,000 in stock, the retailer threatened that it would refuse to pay for the unsold stock and wanted it returned to HP. Samsung's expansion to include the Tab 10.1 as well as the future 7.7 and 8.9 at least hint that Samsung is confident enough to keep making sequel products.
Apple is believed to have seen the iPad's market share in tablets drop to about two thirds, although that number is only based on the official shipment numbers firms are willing to give. Publicly, Apple has repeatedly said it's still selling every iPad it ships outside of a minimum necessary inventory; if true, its real-world market share is higher with Samsung, RIM, Acer, Motorola, and others all falling short of their targets.
Samsung hasn't responded to Barrow's statements but is likely to dispute them.