When lies are told about tablet sales, you know that Samsung can't be far away. In just revealed court documents in the Apple vs. Samsung trial, we learned that 2011 saw Samsung's Galaxy Tab sales at about a million units. That wouldn't be particularly interesting if it was not for the fact that Samsung mislead the media and investors to believe that sales of their iPad killer were much better.
FORTUNE -- We were skeptical in January 2011 when Strategy Analytics reported -- based on a vague comment made to investors by a Samsung vice president -- that the company had already shipped 2 million Galaxy Tabs, reducing Apple's (AAPL) market share to 75% from 95% in less than six weeks.
Nearly two dozen news outlets went with the report, including (to name some outlets that ought to have known better):
VentureBeat: "Android steals tablet market share from Apple's iPad"
Huffington Post: "Android tablets eat away at iPad's lead"
Computerworld: "Android tablets sales skyrocket, a clear sign that they'll dominate the iPad."
Our headline that week: Android grabs 22% tablet share - not!
The Computerworld headline is the one most representative of the media narrative of the last two years. Samsung puts out some fake numbers no one bothers to try to verify. Amazon contributes to the misleading noise by suggesting their tablet is selling at record levels every year. Yet when true numbers are forced out, no one is held accountable. Now that the narrative has a life of its own, the damage has already been done.
People still talk about Android tablet sales as if there were any worth talking about. We already know that the mythical Android tablets are unbranded media sticks that sell for a few dollars in Asia. That is what is propping up Android tablet numbers, than, and whatever lies Samsung is still telling.
We also know that the Samsung/Android numbers are nothing more than shipped, not sold number. We were told that those numbers have to be very close. Otherwise, companies would not continue to take shipments. Yet we know that Samsung's iPad killing they did in 2011 was just a matter of stuffing the channel with tablets that didn't sell. Samsung doesn't care if the tablets sell. They just care that they have a big number to report. The media pretends that number is equivalent to Apple's sales numbers, and off we go.
How did Philip Elmer-DeWitt know the numbers were wrong back in 2011? How did I know it all this time? The answer is simple: Everyone in the media knows it. All of the financial analysts know it. All of the analytics firms know it. They are just pretending there is a fierce competition so that they have something to report and something to sell. Imagine their lives if this was the daily headline: "Apple Sells Another Boatload of iPads, the competition, not so Much". Well folks, that really is the news, and has been since the first iPad shipped. That is why the web usage numbers are so lopsided in favor of Apple.
Here's another little nasty secret: They are lying about smartphone numbers too.