Mike Cane over at The Digital Reader has a great post about the recent release by Samsung of their tablet sales figures. In short, it’s grim news for anybody who isn’t Apple: to their 5.7 million iPads, Samsung has sold just 37,000. So, what’s the problem? From the article:

“All this time we’ve heard from ‘industry pundets’ [sic] 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 … 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.”

Cane points out, too, that it was “love that kept Apple alive.” And Android simply hasn’t got the love. I think he’s onto something. When the iPad was first announced, people said it was just a toy, not a serious business machine. But they bought it anyway, and then found ways to make it a business machine. My logitech keyboard all but turns it into a mini laptop!

So, what is Android up against? Well, they’re facing that initial ‘but it’s just a toy!’ reaction. This is not a need for people. They already have phones that do many of the functions of a mini tablet, or else they have laptops or iPads that do the functions of a bigger one. A couple inches more for reading would be nice, but ‘nice’ is not worth a couple hundred dollars to most people. And if your only reason for wanting the bigger screen is reading, an e-ink reader is a tiny fraction of the price. It’s just hard to justify that kind of money for a toy.

I do use my iPad for work, but I take advantage of the bigger screen to show video and compose documents. Even if Apple came out with an iPad mini tomorrow, I wouldn’t trade in my iPad, because 7 inches just isn’t a big enough screen for me to be productive with. A mini tablet really is just a toy for the vast number of users.

People marvel at why anyone would buy a Nook Tablet or a Kindle Fire when other Android tablets have much better features. What they seem to be overlooking is that Amazon and Nook priced their toys just right for the ‘I want an extra device for my kids’ market—and they built an ecosystem to go with it. Those extra features the Samsung tablet offers cost money, and the cost-benefit ratio just doesn’t seem to be there. For what the usage market is of a smaller tablet, people don’t need computer-level feature sets—or for that matter, computer-level prices.

For what it’s worth, Cane does predict that an iPad Mini would be a huge seller. But, as he points out, it’s love that keeps Apple alive. Everyone else has to stay competitive with the right balance of price and feature sets, and so far Android is, it seems, aiming too high on both of those counts.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. I disagree with a lot of this analysis – I regret to say. The mistake that many people make about Apple customers and Apple ‘fan boys’ is the bizarre and irrational idea that they buy Apple products out of some kind of cultish obsession or loyalty. Well .. they don’t. They buy them because they are the best there is, and they are easy to use, and they just … work. It’s not brain surgery. It’s simple.

    Apple customers never ever said the iPad was a toy. Android and Microsoft people said that. Apple customers know Apple. They bought the iPad because they knew what it did and why they wanted it. They knew this device would be a killer in business. Microsoft tried to say it would be a toy. This idea of the ‘but it’s just a toy!’ as an obstacle for Android is simply untrue. Unfortunately it has become a conclusion that most users have come to ‘after’ trying them.

    What Android faces is a public who KNOW what android does. They’ve had it on their phones. They know the jumble of versions floating all over the place. They know the mess the store is, the unreliability of app versions, the under powering of the devices. The biggest mistake Android makes is in selling an expectation that they don’t meet. Android is not iOS. It isn’t even close. Neither is their app store. And the devices are not powerful enough. So when they proclaim that they are better than Apple, and their phones and tablets are better than Apple – they are nailing themselves to the cross of failure from the very first moment.

    Android is fine for a lot of people. It’s an ok OS. Their tablets do stuff. They are probably just about worth the price. And that’s where it ends. They will sell millions of them eventually.

  2. @Howard
    Android phones are actually better than iPhone. This might change with iPhone 5, but for now the high end Droid devices reign supreme.
    With tablets it’s different, because there is no tablet better than iPad, so why would anyone buy something else?
    That said, failure of Android tablets doom the whole segment to never come close to sales o PC. No matter how good and popular iPad gets, it alone will never be able to come close to PC sales.

  3. The 37,000 units sold is inaccurate if you are talking about total units sold by Samsung. The number is closer to 2.7 million tablets. Mike Cane is making a mountain out of a molehill with numbers that are incomplete. Also worth noting is that it refers only to Samsung numbers and only to the tablet units that are the basis of the patent lawsuit, not to Android-wide devices.

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