This morning Strategy Analytics came out with a report highlighting that Android-based tablets captured approximately 22% of all tablet sales for the 4th Quarter of 2010. This was a surprise, in light of the fact that Apple had sales of 7.3 million iPads in the fourth quarter. Were Android tablets such a hot seller this past holiday season? Before you answer, there are two important points to consider when reading this report.
Many articles, including this one from Fortune immediately pointed out that the numbers were based on sales to retailers, not consumers. For example, Samsung VP Lee Young-hee said sales of their much touted Galaxy Tab to actual consumers were "quite small", even though Samsung shipped 2 million to their retailer network. Based on the comment, it is natural to conclude that most of the tablets are sitting in their retailers' supply rooms. It would be interesting to see how many more of these tablets can be "sold" in the coming quarters to retailers who already have their hands up yelling "no mas!"
A second overlooked point, which I believe is equally important, is the fact that many of the Android tablets that were sold were what I like to call "one and done" tablets. Android tablets such as Coby, Archos, Zenithink, Maylong, among many others, fit into this category. Many of these tablets were bought because they cost $150 to $200, and many of them were bought as gifts for the holiday season. I am sure that these names did not appear on anyone's Chrstmas list but were given as a cheaper substitute for the iPad. My guess is that dissapointed receipients would be more anti-Android after using these devices. Unlike the Galaxy Tab, which is more polished, many of these devices are awkward to use and incompatitble with many apps. Many users, fairly or unfairly, will equate this experience with Android. Google's approach to giving away their operating system for free means more marketshare for Android, but the cost is the loss of quality control; and if not addressed, more Apple followers.