Samsung Galaxy Tab customers are satisfied enough -- return rate less than 2%

There's a reason why Betanews didn't report the ridiculous research report claiming that the return rate on Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets was overly high: It wasn't believable. Finally, Samsung has stepped up with its formal denial.

Samsung posted the statement yesterday (yeah, I missed it; I was celebrating the Lunar New Year on Seoul time): "The return rate of the Galaxy Tab in the US as claimed by an North American market research firm is incorrect. According to Samsung Electronics Mobile Communications Business the return rate is below 2 percent." Now how's that for terse and to the point?

A day earlier, ITG Investment Research sent the Apple fan club of bloggers and journalists convulsing with excitement, by reporting that the Galaxy Tab return rate in the United States is a stunning 16 percent (less before the holidays). Return rates for iPad are a reported 2 percent. Surely some fan clubbers bloodied their fingers typing overly fast to get out this "iPad rules the Galaxy" news.

"No wonder sales of Samsung's Galaxy Tab to date haven't been what the company expected," John Paczkowski wrote on February 1 at All Things Digital. "Not only are consumers buying fewer of them than previously thought -- they're also returning them more frequently." Ah, maybe not.

Yesterday, I asked at the local Best Buy Mobile and T-Mobile stores about Galaxy Tab return rates. The guy at the T-Mo store laughed. He had seen news about high return rates and called it ridiculous. Then there's the Amazon product page for the Galaxy Tab (for T-Mobile). While reader reviews are hardly scientific, most people I know use them to gage a product's purchase worthiness. Out of 49 reviews, 33 gave the tablet 5 stars. Three buyers gave 1 star, and two of them reported returning the Tab; that's a 4 percent return rate. The AT&T Galaxy Tab page had only 9 reviews, the majority 5 stars and no 1 stars or returns.

Samsung had other troubles this week. On January 31, Strategy Analytics used Apple and Samsung shipments into the sales channel to declare iPad market share fell by 20 percent in three months. Hours later the Wall Street Journal pulled an excerpt from Samsung's January 28 earnings call, where an executive responded to a question about the quarter's 2 million shipments. Samsung's Lee Young-hee conceded the 2 million units was "sell-in" to carriers and dealers rather than "sell-through to customers. He reportedly described sales as being "quite small." I blogged defending Strategy Analytics reckoning and questioning what "quite small" could mean. It seemed damn strange to me a Samsung executive would lose face making such a statement. On February 1, Samsung asserted there was a mistranslation and Young-hee said "quite smooth," which makes a helluva lot more sense.

Samsung is having a bad public relations week for the Galaxy Tab, and I must blame the iPad-obsessed rabble of US bloggers and journalists. Calm down. Haven't you heard? Apple's iPad subscription policies might just put you out of business.

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