The Android Tablet House Of Cards Collapsed Today

The truth leaked out back in February: Samsung: ‘we’re not doing very well in the tablet market’ (update)

But selling only 37,000 tablets in one quarter is not “not doing well” — it’s called failure.

All this time we’ve heard from “indistry pundets” how Android is gaining market share against — or passed the market share of — iPhone. And that was going to translate into Android putting a bullet into the head of the iPad too. Any day now. Some day. Eventually.

Well today all that “pundetry” was flushed down the toilet by the reality I’d sensed out there for a long time.

Android tablets aren’t selling jackshit.

Samsung is the best of the Android tablet makers. Whether or not you like their TouchWiz UI, they’ve at least put some real effort into distinguishing their tablets from all others. They’ve even done what Apple hasn’t: Given users Desk Accessories, to simulate multitasking. That’s something Apple pioneered and it’s rather shocking to see Samsung do that instead of Apple.

Anyway, Samsung is the best Android tablet maker. So if their sales have been crap, how much more crap have been the sales of HTC, of Sony, of Asus, and others?

How many Android tablet makers are looking at the Samsung sales figures today and saying, “Holy shit! I thought only our sales were crap?”

I think we’re going to see a sharp decrease in companies releasing Android tablets. Maybe Samsung will continue to pour some money down that rathole — they just introduced the 10.1 Note — but I don’t think others will. It doesn’t make any sense to do so.

And for all of you who will point to the Nexus 7, let me remind you: Google has not released any sales milestones. Where’s the press release braying that they’ve sold a million? They didn’t even do that with their flagship Nexus phone! So don’t expect them to hit that with the Nexus 7 tablet. Especially not with all the complaints about quality control that have been going around about improper color calibration and screens separating from their adhesive.

Google will probably forge ahead with a tablet because their advertising business requires them to do so. But what other company has that kind of impetus to release another Android tablet? None. If the goal is to compete in tablets, why be Google’s bitch? That’s what it all amounts to in the end!

Today’s revelation also makes me wonder about HP’s reaction. No doubt “indistry pundets” told them they had no chance against the iPad and especially against Android. Today’s Samsung figures show differently. webOS was loved and that Macintosh-like rabid fanbase could have worked in HP’s favor a year or two out. We can see some of that right now, with Android tablets not selling. People use Android, but I’ve yet to see anyone say they love it. It was love that kept Apple alive through all of its dark years — and that dedication could have sustained webOS into a second place too.

Anyone who ever saw Glimpse demonstrated on an HP TouchPad drooled over it. I think Samsung must have seen Glimpse and was inspired to create Multiscreen for their new 10.1 Note tablet. But all that accomplishes is further fragmentation of Android. That’s quite different from Glimpse on webOS. webOS was from a single company on hardware from a single company and all devs had one set of rules to code to, unlike with Android (where 2.3 is still the most popular version being used!).

Spare me your objections about how Android phones are doing well. The point I’m making here is that with Android, there is no overlap between phones and tablets. People with an Android phone are not going to go get an Android tablet — or they would have by now. (People with a webOS phone, by the way, would have gotten a webOS tablet; although my larger point is that just as a tablet, webOS could have done well. Again: See Glimpse — video of which I will embed at the end.)

There’s a reverse lesson in all this for Microsoft too. Even though people have drooled over the Surface tablet — including me — don’t expect that to translate into people buying Windows Phone. That’s just not going to happen. People using Android phones will likely continue to do so until there is a compelling reason for them to switch — and so far there simply isn’t. But Microsoft still has time to create ways to make that happen. Unless Windows 8 itself is a disaster.

Finally, let me repeat this: iPad Mini sales are going to be phenomenal. It will be the fastest-selling product in consumer electronics history, breaking all Apple and all consumer electronics sales records. Everyone except me will be surprised by the sales. If you’re not on line that first day, you’re going to be heading to eBay to pay with blood to get one. I believe there will be shortages for the first quarter of sales and Apple will be chasing demand for many months.

One more thing: The Kindle Fire and NookColor/Tablet? Those are not Android tablets. Those are storefronts. They could have been based on any OS. They simply don’t count.

And now, Glimpse for webOS. This is how every damn tablet should work for people who want to get shit done:


  1. Logan Kennelly10 August, 2012

    I skipped most of the article because the conclusions aren’t quite right. Those numbers include only the three tablets involved with the lawsuit, most of which have since been replaced. Effectively, it is saying that year-old tablets aren’t selling terribly well.

    Not that anyone was arguing that Apple doesn’t dominate the current tablet market, but it isn’t quite as bleak as the screaming headline indicates.

  2. Logan Kennelly10 August, 2012

    More specifically, it covers the original Galaxy Tab (7), the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE. I’m pretty sure it does not cover the “2” variants of these tablets.

    Also, isn’t there a sales injunction in place in a few markets, including the U.S.?

    1. Nate Hoffelder10 August, 2012

      Those numbers might only be limited to a few tablets, but they’re still damned small. What makes you think their other tablets are doing any better?

      1. Logan Kennelly10 August, 2012

        I think you missed the primary point: How many 2012 Ford Focus cars do you think Ford is likely to sell this quarter now that they are only making 2013 models?

        I don’t have a clue how well their tablets are doing, but I’m certainly not willing to compare the number of tablets no longer being manufactured to all of Apple’s tablet sales. It’s not even fair to compare sales with the iPad 2 considering that Apple still makes the iPad 2 and differentiates it in the market through pricing. Samsung moved on and made new models to replace the old.

        1. Logan Kennelly10 August, 2012

          In hindsight, the car analogy is bad because of the huge inventory levels carried by the dealers (and the courts haven’t prevented Ford from selling cars), but I think it demonstrates my point.

        2. Nate Hoffelder10 August, 2012

          Except that the Galaxy Tab 7 had shitty sales from the very beginning. What makes you think that Samsung’s other tablets aren’t having shitty sales as well?

          And didn’t the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 come out this year (in April)? That would mean that the original Tab was the current device throughout 2011, so its shitty sales reflected Samsung’s best efforts.

          1. Logan Kennelly10 August, 2012

            Excellent point, Nate. It looks like it was around April and May for the new devices. If we assume Q1 sales were slumping due to the imminent release of the next generation devices and sales were back to the levels they were at before, Samsung is probably selling about 400,000–500,000 devices.

            Combined with other manufacturers (and ignoring Nook, Nexus 7, and Kindle sales), I can probably make the wild guess that Android tablet sales are around one million devices a quarter, or about 15% of the tablet market. (I ignore the Nexus 7 because I honestly have no clue how popular it has been.)

            1. Thomas11 August, 2012

              According to IDC, Android market share for tablets was 38.7 percent worldwide two months ago. They project total sales of 107 million tablets in 2012.

              One of the articles referenced at the top of the page says that Samsung shipped 2.5 million tablets total worldwide in Q2 alone.

    2. Mike Cane10 August, 2012

      There is no way to spin those numbers other than failure, period. You really think there’s been *increasing* sales? What hat are you pulling that from?

      And how can you skip most of the article and even *tell* the conclusions “aren’t quite right”? That’s a frikkin neat trick. Are YOU an “indistry pundet”? You might have a future as one! Get paid to fail. Nice work.

      In addition, what the hell did SAMSUNG ITSELF say back in February?

      1. Logan Kennelly10 August, 2012

        Wow, that comes across as a lot of emotion for a response merely pointing out incorrect analysis. I’m sure the commentary is lovely and interesting, but I assumed it was conclusions drawn from the opening paragraphs, and the opening paragraphs are incorrect. (Actually, I went back and read it. It is an interesting set of opinions, and they do mostly ignore the opening paragraphs.) Maybe we can have a fun article comparing iPad 1 sales to the Kindle Fire next.

        I didn’t draw conclusions. I didn’t say sales were increasing. I merely point out that the analysis is incorrect.

        I’m more interested in what drives tablet sales. My opinion is that it is largely marketing and driven by a lack of other new gadgets on which people spend money (games consoles are aging, laptops aren’t that much faster, 3D didn’t displace those shiny new HD TVs people just bought) and a fantastically cheap/free mobile OS gaming market. It certainly isn’t reading, productivity applications, or travel. The explosive growth in tablets may also hint at a shift toward individual entertainment with families no longer gathering in the living room but instead choosing more personal options.

        But that’s outside the scope of this article.

  3. Lynne Connolly10 August, 2012

    I think it’s the high end tablets that might be suffering. I love my rooted Nook Color, and if it goes wrong, I’ll probably replace it with a Nexus 7. But that’s my reading and on-the-move checking device. I have a physical keyboard for it, but I don’t use it often. My NC and, if I got one, the Nexus, would be my reader.
    When I wanted a travelling device earlier this year, I had a decision to make. High end tablet with keyboard or ultrabook? I went ultrabook and I haven’t regretted it. I factored in that Windows 8 is geared towards touchscreens, but frankly, when I’m working I’m happier with a keyboard, and the ultrabook has a multi-gesture pad.
    Will I look at a Surface? Hells yes.

  4. Lynne Connolly10 August, 2012

    BTW, it’s “pundit.”

    1. Nate Hoffelder10 August, 2012

      Yes. The misspelling was deliberate (though i suppose you wouldn’t be able to tell given my usual spelling errors). Mike was being snide.

  5. fbr10 August, 2012

    Holy crap what shitty writing. Even considering its the internet, you’re setting new standards for juvenile diatribe. Did somebody tell you that they liked their Android better than your iPad?

  6. monopole10 August, 2012

    The question arises, if’ Android is a total failure and the iPad the only option, why is Apple so utterly desperate to block Android sales? Why is it rushing out a 7″ tablet even ‘tho St. Jobs declared such a design verbotten? Why is it suing it’s primary supplier? And why are the other players still making tablets?

    1. Nate Hoffelder10 August, 2012


      1. monopole10 August, 2012

        If the sales were so low as not to be a threat, why wouldn’t Apple cultivate Android to avoid inevitable monopoly charges? Microsoft actually praised Linux during their antitrust trial.

        1. Nate Hoffelder10 August, 2012

          I’m not sure how they could be subject to one; it’s not their fault if the Android tablets are shitty.

    2. Nate Hoffelder10 August, 2012

      Perhaps Apple knows that the 7″ market is the only place where Android tablets are having any success and ants to kill them off.

    3. cookie11 August, 2012

      ” there is no overlap between phones and tablets. ”

      If I have spent a lot of money on apps that I use on my phone, and I can use those same apps on my tablet, why wouldn’t I want to buy an Android tablet. I have at least $70 in dictionary apps alone, so it is going to factor into my decision making.

  7. DavidW10 August, 2012

    I was in an AT&T store today and at least 3/4 of their phones and tablets were android. I don’t think they are going anywhere. Android : Apple as Mac : PC or Plasma : LCD. It’s okay to be in a minority, but don’t be afraid that your favorite tech will go away overnight, it won’t. There is enough people to keep it running and you don’t need to have a majority to be successful.

  8. Jon Jermey10 August, 2012

    I’ve bought three generic Android tablets from China via eBay; collectively they cost me less than one iPad would have done. But their statistics aren’t going to show up if you confine yourself to mainstream manufacturers. People buy from Apple because they don’t have a choice; but they DO have a choice where to buy Android tablets, and they are exercising it.

    1. Tyler10 August, 2012

      Q1 is one of the worse quarters for retail sales since it happens after Q4 which has Christmas and Q1 is the start of Tax Season.

      The IPad 3 came out in March and in late February the IPad 2 was put on sale for the first time. Then it’s price was reduced when the IPad 3 was released.

      My point is that there was a lot of excitement and incentive to buy IPads.

      Android tablets pretty much just sat on shelves and waited for weekly sales or the start of the clearance sales to get rid of them.

  9. Tim Gray11 August, 2012

    Low-cost Android tablets seem to be jostling with the iPad for popularity on Amazon UK’s tablet page…

  10. Thomas11 August, 2012

    The 37,000 figure for Samsung only includes US sales for the tablets accused in the lawsuit, which have since been replaced by newer models. The same article claims that Samsung sold 2.5 million tablets worldwide in Q2 2012.

    Does anyone have any solid information on total android tablet market share? I’ve seen estimates of 35 to 40 percent. I’m not sure that those estimates include all android tablets, considering the number of tablets sold that aren’t approved by Google to have the Play store. Newegg alone lists 267 different tablets.

  11. Bill Smith11 August, 2012

    I agree with monopole

    If Apple didn’t believe Android tablets were a threat in the long run, they wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars to block them.

    And by the way, I do believe the best selling Android tablet is the Kindle Fire…forked or not, it’s still Android.

  12. Bill Smith11 August, 2012

    I also think it is unfair to just the sales of the IPad versus only the Samsung tablets…Apple is the exclusive vendor for iOS devices, whereas there are (approximately) four billion different Android tablet manufacturers…

    It’s like comparing sales of the manufacturer Toyota (Apple iOS) versus sales of the Ford Focus GTX (one specific model out of an entire line of competing products)…it would be fairer to compare all Android versus all iOS sales since they are comparable and competing products.

  13. Afzal11 August, 2012

    The ipad mini, if it ever comes out, will be a flop. Why? Apple will have no choice other than 1024×768(ipad 2 apps) or 960×640 (iphone apps). Both these resolutions would be lower than the nexus 7.

    The iphone apps would look crazy big on a 7 inch screen and the ipad apps would be crazy small. if a 4:3 aspect is used, the screen would be large, the tablet heavy and the price point will not be competitive, and that’s the whole point. Nexus 7 is going to be a massive hit primarily due to its price.

    If apple choses a new resolution, it will put additional burdon on the developers. due to the factors above, plus the philosophy of apple not making smaller tablets, i am not so sure an ipad mini would ever be released and if it does, it would be a flop.

    1. Mike Cane12 August, 2012

      >>>The iphone apps would look crazy big on a 7 inch screen and the ipad apps would be crazy small.

      No. Go see the video of the TouchPad Go:

  14. Phil12 August, 2012

    unsubscribing to this bile..

  15. Mike Cane12 August, 2012

    It’s “from,” not “to.” Buh-bye.

  16. Name (required)13 August, 2012

    Obviously there are several ways to spin the numbers and read the tea leaves:

    Go figure …


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