Worldwide tablet shipments have declined for the fourth quarter running, the International Data Corporation (IDC) has found.While there were signs of a slight seasonal improvement in the 2015 third quarter, the IDC found shipments declined 12.6 per cent year-on-year, totalling 48.7 million units.
In releasing its quarter three figures, the IDC noted the opportunities for growth in the market are becoming fewer, with mature markets such as North America, Western Europe and the Asia Pacific well past 100 million active tablets per region.
“We continue to get feedback that tablet users are holding onto devices upwards of four years,” Ryan Reith, IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers program director, commented
“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.”
The IDC noted there is growing interest from vendors in new form factors, with detachable tablets “becoming a clear focus for many”, which, having held just a single digit percentage of the overall tablet market, the IDC expects will dramatically increase over the next 18 months.
In turn, the IDC expects traditional PC original equipment manufacturers evolving their portfolios to include detachables to face pressure from the traditional smartphone original equipment manufacturers, many of which it noted 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,” Tom Mainelli, IDC Devices & Displays program vice president, noted.
“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.”
Apple remains the number one global tablet vendor, capturing 20.3 per cent of the market in the quarter, down from 22.1 per cent year-on-year, shipping 9.9 million units, down 19.7 per cent, with the IDC noting that “the days of deifying the iPad as the ultimate tablet may have come to an end”.
“Apple’s self-cannibalisation and increasing competition from PC vendors with detachable tablets have both contributed to a decline in iPad shipments,” the IDC stated. “However, the impending launch of the iPad Pro may serve as a silver lining as the market shifts towards productivity-enabling devices.”
Samsung came in at number two with a 16.5 per cent market share, down from 17.4 per cent year-on-year, shipping 8 million units, down 17.1 per cent, closing the gap on Apple.
Rounding out the top five, Lenovo came in at number three with a 6.3 per cent market share, up from 5.5 per cent year on year, shipping 3.1 million units, up 0.9 per cent, followed by Asus, which captured 4 per cent of the market, down from 6.1 per cent, shipping 1.9 million units, down 43.4 per cent, and Huawei with a 3.7 per cent market share, up from 1.3 per cent, shipping 1.8 million units, up 147.9 per cent.