Tablet Sales Decline Worldwide, Apple Still Leads

(Photo: Robert Scoble, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Robert Scoble, Creative Commons)

The worldwide market for tablets has slipped this year, according to the market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). However, detachable tablets are becoming more popular than ever.

The drop in tablet sales in the first quarter of 2016 is due in part to first-quarter seasonality, but also a customer base that is "unenthused" about tablets, the report says.

Worldwide tablet sales fell 14.7%, to only 39.6 million units, for the first quarter of this year. Tablet sales have been declining since their peak in the fourth quarter of 2013 when 78.6 million units were sold.

According to Mark Hachman of PC World, Apple is still the most popular tablet manufacturer, with Samsung in second place, Amazon in third, Lenovo in fourth, and Huawei in fifth. Almost all of them are experiencing a decline in sales.

Sales of Apple tablets, including the iPad and the iPad Pro, fell 18.8% this quarter from the first quarter of 2015. The popular tech company's market share of tablets dropped from 27.2% in the first quarter of 2015 to 25.9% in the first quarter of this year.

Samsung had a 28.1% decline in year-over-year growth. Amazon had amazing yearly growth because the price of its Fire tablets dropped as low as $50, but also it must be considered that last year, the IDC didn't count their newly-released 6-inch tablet because of its stipulations on what is considered a tablet.

Detachable tablets, however — touch-screen devices that include removable keyboards — have sold 4.9 million units, an all-time high for first quarters. The sales have grown by triple digits year-over-year. They are expected to replace laptops as the first choice in mobile computer technology, as some feel that they more effectively bridge the gap between smart phones and PCs.

Jitesh Ubrani, the senior research analyst of the IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, said:

With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachables. Apple's recent foray into this segment has garnered them an impressive lead in the short term, although continued long-term success may prove challenging as a higher entry price point staves off consumers, and iOS has yet to prove its enterprise-readiness, leaving plenty of room for Microsoft and their hardware partners to reestablish themselves.

The detachable market has grown in variety this year as smartphone vendors like Samsung and Huawei have released their versions of the technology. However, Richard Chang of Campus Technology predicts that these mid-range devices may not be as popular, as those seeking performance will go for high-end devices like Microsoft Surface and others may seek lower-priced devices from other vendors.

Others disagree, and consider mobile-first vendors to be experts on mobile technology, with tablets as a natural next step for the companies. The Economic Times quoted Jean Phillippe Bouchard, research director of tablets at IDC, said in a prepared statement:

Their understanding of the mobile ecosystem and the volume achieved on their smartphone product lines will allow them to aggressively compete for this new computing segment.

However, "slate" tablets (those without a detachable keyboard) still make up 87.6% of all tablet shipments.

05 11, 2016
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