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Samsung tablet footing more tenuous than record smartphone sales

Samsung Galaxy smartphone sales topped those of the Apple iPhone. In the tablet market, however, Samsung isn't alone in downplaying figures.

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Apple's iPhone may be the number-one reason consumers sign up for or leave carriers, according to Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, but it was the Samsung Galaxy line of smartphones that were most often purchased during the third quarter, Samsung confirmed this morning, announcing its fiscal results.

That it would edge out Apple was expected (CP: Samsung beats Apple for number one spot, says report).

"Handset shipments rose more than 20% quarter-on-quarter, driven by growth in the smartphone segment where sales were up more than 40% on-quarter and 300% year-on-year," Samsung said in a statement, adding that it has sold more than 10 million Galaxy SII smartphones since the device's introduction five months ago.

Four years after Apple introduced the first iPhone, the market has managed to not only properly compete against it but beat it. Tablets, however, the other form factor that Apple reinvigorated, are still another story.

"Sales volume for the Galaxy Tab portfolio of tablets increased with the expansion of the 8.9- and 10.1-inch devices into the lineup," Samsung noted more vaguely.

In presentation materials, it added that it expects "new mass-market models to increase amid strong demand growth in developed markets."

Smartphone competitor Motorola was more clear in its earning statement yesterday: while it moved 4.8 million smartphone during the quarter, it sold just 100,000 Xoom tablets.

Still, with Apple selling 11 million iPads during the quarter, the industry is confident there's a market there if it can, as it has ever so slowly with smartphones, divert attention from Apple.

“One of the things that we are excited about in terms of support for Windows Phone are the announcements made around Windows 8 for tablets and personal computers,” Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told the Financial Times after his Nokia World keynote (CP: Nokia intros Lumia and Asha phones with emphasis on craftsmanship).

“When you see the user experience from the Nokia Lumia environment appearing on hundreds of millions of tablets and PCs in the future," Elop continued, "you can see that there is a clear synergy between all those environments. So that presents an interesting opportunity for Nokia.”

Sony is also pressing on in the tablet space. Yesterday it announced it was buying Ericsson out of the Sony Ericsson brand (CP: Sony buys Ericsson out of Android smartphone partnership) so that it might better focus on a strategy pairing content with four household screens: smartphones, televisions, laptops and tablets.

RIM's PlayBook sales, however, were so poor that the company redesigned its platform approach altogether.

And then there's Hewlett-Packard, the world leader in PC sales, which experienced such pathetic interest in its tablet line that it discontinued it — though not before slashing the price, which of course led to best-ever TouchPad sales, so much so that it had to run off an additional batch to meet sales promises.

Still, mobile hardware is so integrated with the mobile ecosystem, that HP, after flirting with the idea of selling off its Personal Systems Group — which while leading the market in sales and bringing in sizeable revenue turns a terrible profit — announced yesterday that it plans to hold on to the group.

Its WebOS division, however — the group responsible for the TouchPad tablet's platform — may be another story. According to the Guardian, HP is planning to shut down WebOS (swallowing the $1.2 billion it paid for Palm, specifically for the mobile platform).

HP has decided to persevere in the PC space, but on the tablet front it knew when to plead uncle.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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