Galaxy Tab return rate as high as 16%, researcher says

Some speculate many returns are due to Froyo's inability to fully run Android apps on 7-inch screen

Since Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet debuted in the U.S. in November, return rates have been as high as 16%, said ITG Investment Research, which tracked sales at nearly 6,000 wireless stores.

By comparison, the return rate of the larger iPad from Verizon Wireless stores has been at 2% since Verizon put it on sale in November. All four major carriers sell the iPad device, but return rates for others were not available.

ITG analysts did not explain possible reasons for the high Galaxy return rate, and Galaxy officials could not be reached to comment.

Some bloggers have speculated the returns could be related to the Galaxy Tab's running of the Froyo version of Android.

Samsung acknowledged to Computerworld in September that some Android apps would not run at full 1024 x 600 resolution on the 7-inch screen on the Froyo-based Galaxy Tab. Officials said those apps would instead be framed in the display at 800 x 400.

Mobile services such as Google Maps are fully scalable on the Galaxy Tab, however, Samsung added at the time.

Hugo Barra, Google director of mobile products, had said last summer that Froyo, or Android 2.2, was not designed for the larger tablet form factor and was principally for smartphone screens of 4 inches or less. The latest version of Android, also known as Honeycomb, is designed for larger screens, according to Honeycomb lead designer Matias Duarte.

Running Froyo on a tablet could result in apps that are a "little ugly," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said last September before the Galaxy Tab device appeared.

However, many reviewers have not mentioned that problem. For example, Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal called the Galaxy Tab a "serious alternative to the iPad" in a November review.

Samsung has reportedly said that it sold 2 million Galaxy Tabs in the fourth quarter. Some experts, though, have said Samsung shipped 2 million Galaxy Tabs shipped in the quarter, meaning some could still be unsold on store shelves.

Whatever the number, some analysts have said the Galaxy Tab is having an impact on iPad sales.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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