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Samsung posts record year, with help from Galaxy Tab

by Phil Hornshaw

It might have been the iPad’s birthday this week, but Apple’s (AAPL) tablet isn’t the only one that’s seeing strong sales -- though not nearly as strong as Apple’s, admittedly.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab passed two million sales in just three months on the market at the end of 2010, and helped drive Samsung (005930.KS) up to record revenue, according to a report from Slash Gear. The company increased its net sales over all its businesses by 7 percent over last year in Q4 2010, and drove them up 13 percent for the entire year of 2010 over 2009. Profits were up 13 percent in Q4 over the previous year, and 65 percent for all of 2010 over 2009 -- clearly the company is doing something right.

That something probably consists of its entries into the smartphone and tablet markets. In the mobile device market, Samsung’s Q4 sales were more than $80.7 million (17 percent higher than Q4 2009), with $280 million in sales for the entire 2010 year.

Samsung’s success is another of the war stories between devices running Google’s (GOOG) Android and Apple’s iOS operating system. Android sales are still going strong, and the tablet market is rapidly expanding. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is among the front-runners for serious iPad contenders, and it seems a new tab in the Galaxy line is on the way.

Ars Technica is reporting that a PR leak suggests Samsung is planning an announcement of some addition to the Galaxy Tab line at the Mobile World Congress next month in Barcelona. Samsung has already confirmed that a 10-inch tab is in development (the current Galaxy Tab is 7), so speculation suggests the bigger, new Galaxy Tab 2 could be on the way to beat the iPad 2 to the gate. It’s also possible the announcement will be for a revised 7-inch Galaxy, possibly with new hardware and running on Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

The Galaxy Tab did well in 2010, beating Samsung’s end-of-year sales goals of 1.5 million, but it was still shellacked by the iPad, which shipped 7.33 million in Q4 2010. But Galaxy Tab outdoing its projections at least suggests that the tab is becoming a viable iPad alternatve, with more customers seeing that the market is significantly larger than just iPad alone.

Mobile World Congress will be a big event for Samsung and Android owners. In addition to whatever it has planned on the Galaxy Tab front, Samsung’s also announcing some kind of replacement for its Galaxy S smartphone -- and that new phone will include a Super AMOLED Plus display and a dual-core processor, which will be on sale in the first half of 2011. Slash Gear figures the phone is the Galaxy S2.

Whatever the phone is, it’s sure to be a big addition to the Android lineup -- last we heard, Samsung had sold 10 million Galaxy S phones in just seven months. It’s looking more and more like MWC is going to be huge for Android users.