In time for its third-quarter earnings due later this week, Samsung informed the media today that it sold ten million Galaxy S smartphones in 2010. No data was released for the Nexus S device that Samsung co-developed with Google and brought to market last month.

Although the Galaxy S numbers pale in comparison with Apple’s iPhone 4 that shipped 14.1 million units in the September quarter alone, it was enough to earn the South Korean company the fourth slot in an IDC-estimated global smartphone sales in the third quarter, behind Nokia, Apple and Research In Motion. Samsung hopes to sell twice as many Galaxy phones in 2011.

Goldman Sachs estimated total smartphone sales for Samsung in this year to 61 million units. The company is also rumored to unveil an iPod touch rival and tablets based on Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chips at the CES show.

The Galaxy S sales stats represent a remarkable change for Samsung whose smartphones in 2009 had fallen on deaf ear as Motorola, the maker of Droid phones, emerged as the leading Android phone vendor.

That changed with the introduction of the Galaxy S smartphone last June, ahead of Apple’s press conference. Although the device didn’t steal thunder from Apple’s iPhone 4, it was met with favorable reviews and is still considered the best all-around Android smartphone there is.

Minimum specifications for the baseline GT-I9000 version include a Samsung-built "Hummingbird" processor clocked at 1GHz, a four-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with a 480×800 pixel resolution and a five-megapixel camera on the back. Several Galaxy S variants are available in the US, including the Epic 4G, Vibrant, Captivate, and Fascinate, some of which feature an additional forward-facing camera for videoconferencing.

Source: Bloomberg