Apple 2.0

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Apple sold 5.7 million iPads in the U.S. last quarter, court docs show. Samsung sold 37,000 Tabs

August 10, 2012: 8:02 AM ET

Reports of Galaxy Tab sales, like Mark Twain's death, have been greatly exaggerated

Click to enlarge. Source: Court documents

FORTUNE -- In early December 2010, dozens of reporters happily repeated Samsung's claim that it had sold 1 million Galaxy Tab computers in the three and a half weeks since the tablet's November 2010 U.S. debut. Seven weeks later Samsung was telling analysts that Tab sales had passed 2 million.

It's hard to reconcile those numbers with court documents Samsung filed Thursday in a California federal court that show the company selling 262,000 Galaxy Tabs in the U.S. -- the world's largest tablet market --  in Q4 2010 and 77,000 in Q1 2011.

The discrepancy in the estimates of  independent market researchers is even greater. According to an IDC press release issued just last week, Samsung sold 2,391,000 tablet computers worldwide in Q2 2012, up 117.6% from the same quarter last year. According to Samsung's court filing, it sold a total of 37,000 "accused" tablets (see UPDATE) in the U.S. last quarter, down 86% year over year.

While its possible that Samsung's overseas sales made up the difference, it's extremely unlikely. According to court documents Apple (AAPL) filed Thursday, revealing for the first time its domestic iPhone and iPad sales figures, the U.S. represented an average of 42% of its worldwide tablet unit sales over the past nine quarters. The U.S. share of iPad sales was never lower than 26%.

If Samsung really sold 2.4 million tablets last quarter, as IDC estimates, 1.5% were sold in the U.S. and 98.5% overseas. That's pretty hard to believe.

AllThingsD got the documents first. CNET made them easy to download. Thanks to Financial Alchemist's Turley Muller for pointing out the IDC discrepancies.

UPDATE: An IDC spokesman points out that the court document submitted by Samsung only lists unit sales of "accused" tablets, i.e. the Galaxy Tab line. Samsung also sells tablets -- like the Windows-based Series 7 Slate -- that haven't been accused of infringing Apple's patents. IDC hasn't done a breakdown of the two categories.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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