The global tablet market continued its yearlong tumble as shipments declined for the fourth straight quarter, according to preliminary data from market research firm IDC. Shipments fell to 48.7 million units in the third quarter of 2015, down 12.6 percent year-over year, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.
Apple maintained its top spot as the tablet leader with 20.3 percent of the market share and shipments of 9.9 million units for the quarter. Samsung came in second with 16.5 percent of the market and 8 million units shipped, while Lenovo came in third at 6.3 percent and shipments of 3.1 million units.
Even Apple Sales Are Rotten
But even Apple is feeling the pain, as sales of the iPad [pictured] declined almost 20 percent year-over-year. Of the five tablet manufacturers IDC tracks, only last place Huawei saw sales climb significantly, with 147.9 percent growth for the year. Lenovo also saw sales grow, but only by a scant 0.9 percent.
Still, IDC said that the introduction of the iPad Pro could help juice sales in the upcoming quarters, thanks to an increased focus on productivity devices. "We continue to get feedback that tablet users are holding onto devices upwards of four years," said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement.
Although the traditional slate tablet has a place in the world of personal computing, as the installed base continues to grow and devices get bigger and more capable, the need for smaller form factor slate tablets becomes less clear, Reith said. "With shipment volumes slowing over four consecutive quarters, the market appears to be in transition," he added.
The estimated installed base of tablets at the end of 2014 was 581.9 million globally, up 36 percent from 2013 but slowing quickly, according to IDC. With mature markets like North America, Western Europe, and Asia/Pacific well past 100 million active tablets per region, the opportunities for growth appear to be diminishing.
Shift Toward Detachables
The industry is seeing increased interest from vendors in new form factors, with detachable tablets becoming a focus for many, IDC reported. While detachable tablets hold just a single digit percentage of the overall tablet market, IDC said that it expects that share to increase dramatically over the next 18 months.
However, the shift toward detachables presents some new challenges. In particular, the mix of traditional PC OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) that are evolving their portfolios to include detachables will face pressure from the traditional smartphone OEMs, many of which have become accustomed to delivering extremely low-cost products.
"The first generation of detachable tablets failed to gain much traction, as they represented a series of compromises in terms of both operating system and hardware that few consumers or businesses were willing to accept," said Tom Mainelli, program vice president, Devices & Displays at IDC, in the statement. "The devices shipping now represent a clear evolution of both OS and hardware, and it's our expectation that both home and pro users will begin to embrace the form factor in larger numbers going forward."
Rob Chamberlin, DataXoom:
Posted: 2015-10-30 @ 7:59am PT
The slower than expected upgrade cycle you reference is certainly an issue for tablet sales. Curious about your research on the increasing popularity of phablets, and their role in the tablet sales decline, particularly on the smaller 8 inch variety.