The downward slide in consumer demand for tablets gained momentum in the third quarter (3Q’15), dropping 11.2 percent year-over-year to 49.4 million units shipped, according to the latest published market data from IDC. 3Q’s drop was the fourth consecutive quarterly decline in global tablet shipments, IDC highlights in a news release.
IDC estimated there were 581.9 million tablets in use globally as of year-end 2014. That was up 36 percent from 2013, but IDC noted signs of slowing consumer demand. Researchers saw fewer opportunities for growth as the number of tablets in users’ hands was well above 100 million in key markets in North America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific.
The Tablet Sales Decline
“We continue to get feedback that tablet users are holding onto devices upwards of four years,” said Ryan Reith, program director of IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in the release.
“We believe the traditional slate tablet has a place in the personal computing world. However, as the smartphone installed base continues to grow and the devices get bigger and more capable, the need for smaller form factor slate tablets becomes less clear. With shipment volumes slowing over four consecutive quarters, the market appears to be in transition.”
This being the case, tablet OEMs are trying to stimulate vendors’ interest in new form factors, such as detachable tablets, IDC points out. The market research provider expects demand for detachable tablets will increase dramatically over the next 18 months despite accounting for a single-digit percentage of the global tablet market.
Traditional PC and smartphone OEMs are likely to butt heads as they compete for market share in the detachable tablet segment of the market, IDC continues. “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,” commented Tom Mainelli, IDC program VP, Devices & Displays.
“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.”
Turning to leading tablet OEMs and their market shares, IDC determined that Apple shipped a total 9.9 million tablets in 3Q, good enough to lead the market with a 20 percent market share. That was down from 22.1 percent a year ago, however.
Samsung ranked second, having shipped 8.8 million tablets in 3Q. Ranking third was Lenovo, which accounted for 6.3 percent of 3Q shipments, a total of 3.1 million.
Round out the top five were ASUS and Huawei. ASUS shipped 1.9 million tablets in 3Q for a 3.9 percent market share, while Huawei shipped 1.8 million for a 3.7 percent share. Other vendors shipped a total 23.9 million tablets and accounted for nearly half, 48.4 percent, of the global market in 3Q.