Whether the Samsung Galaxy Tab is selling as fast as we originally thought or not, it is being reported that 16 percent of those sales are resulting in returns for refunds. The initial response to a high return rate is normally that the product is not very good, but my own experience with the Tab leads me to believe that two other factors are in play. Many buyers may be realizing they just don't need a tablet, and others may be expressing buyer's remorse over the data contract the Tab requires.
I'm not going to defend how good the Galaxy Tab is, while I like it not everyone will. That's the nature of handheld devices, they generate very personal responses. But I can state that for what a 7-inch tablet can do, the Tab does that very well. I've corresponded with many Tab owners who feel the same way. I've also spoken with a number of Tab buyers who returned them for refunds during the grace period, and they all fell in the two camps I've described.
Some Tab returners simply realized that while cool and fun, they just didn't find the tablet offered additional benefit over their smartphone. The bigger screen is nice, but for a few hundred dollars it didn't add enough value for them to keep the Tab. That is going to be a recurring theme with tablets as more of them hit the market. We're going to hear a lot of folks state that "it's fun, but it's just not worth that much money."
Others who returned the Tab did so out of contract remorse more than buyer's remorse. Most Tabs sold in the U.S. are subsidized through data carriers, requiring a data plan. That is a healthy commitment, and it weighs heavily on some Tab buyers who also fit in the first camp. It's cool, but it's not worth a 2-year data plan commitment. So the Tab is returned during the grace period and the remorse goes away.
Companies preparing to release tablets should be watching the Galaxy Tab return situation very carefully. Most tablets that will appear will attract the same type of buyers that are returning the Tab in great numbers.