Samsung has been caught misleading the general public about sales of its Galaxy tablets.
In 2011, Samsung told the world it had shipped 2 million Galaxy Tabs by the end of 2010, which was its then-new iPad rival.
On a call with investors, Samsung was asked what the 2 million shipped really meant. VP Lee Young-hee hedged and didn’t really answer the question, saying:
“Well, your question was on sell-in and sell-out. As you heard, our sell-in was quite aggressive and this first quarterly result was quite, you know, fourth-quarter unit [figure] was around two million. Then, in terms of sell-out, we also believe it was quite smooth. We believe, as the introduction of new device, it was required to have consumers invest in the device. So therefore, even though sell-out wasn’t as fast as we expected, we still believe sell-out was quite OK.”
The reason Lee was hedging is that Samsung wasn’t selling many tablets at all, it turns out.
Apple Insider has evidence from the Samsung-Apple patent trial reveals that by June of 2011, Samsung sold 1 million Galaxy Tabs. That’s half of what it was leading the rest of the world to believe it had sold by January of 2011.
Why does this matter?
Because Samsung never officially reports its numbers. Instead it guides analysts towards numbers which are then picked up and reported as fact. Those numbers are then interpreted to tell a bigger story about the state of Apple’s business or Samsung’s business.
For all of Apple’s secrecy, in one key way, it’s significantly more open than its competitors.
Apple is the only company that really goes into detail about its business performance. In earnings reports, Apple lists how many iPhones, iPads, and Macs it ships. It lists the revenue from each of those products.
And on the company’s earnings call, it gets into even finer detail. It tells analysts about channel inventory and sell-through numbers. It also breaks out how many people visited its stores, how much revenue the stores generated. It talks about iTunes revenue, and someone asks, Apple will even talk about Apple TV unit sales.
Compare that to Amazon, which refuses to give any details on its Kindle, or AWS businesses. Amazon says it’s withholding details for competitive reasons. Or Google, which gives a broad outline of the business, but rarely gets into the weeds to talk display versus search versus mobile advertising.
Or, look at Samsung, which isn’t clear about its sales figures.
The next time you hear about Samsung’s massive Galaxy shipments, keep this story in mind. We really don’t have any idea how many phones and tablets it’s actually selling.