Mobile Trends

Tablet Market Slides Worldwide, Though Detachables See Continued Growth

Worldwide tablet shipments slumped 14.7 percent during the first quarter of 2016, according to preliminary data released today by International Data Corp. (IDC), a market research firm. First-quarter seasonality, along with an overall unenthused customer base, were factors that caused the decline, IDC reported.

Shipments of Apple tablets, including iPad and iPad Pro, dropped 18.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the first quarter of 2015. Apple’s tablet market share also slipped from 27.2 percent in Q1 2015 to 25.9 percent in Q1 2016.

Meanwhile, detachable tablets — devices that include removable keyboards — saw triple-digit year-over-year growth on shipments of more than 4.9 million units, an all-time high for the first quarter of a calendar year.

“With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachables,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in a prepared statement. “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 first quarter of 2016 also witnessed the introduction of detachable tablets from traditional “mobile-first” vendors such as Samsung and Huawei. The mid-range pricing for these new units will make them a challenging sell, as consumers desiring performance will likely go for a Microsoft Surface-like device, and the budget minded lean toward more affordable products from vendors such as EFun, RCA and others.

“The introduction of detachables from traditional smartphone vendors is only beginning and pose a real threat to traditional PC manufacturers,” said Jean Phillippe Bouchard, research director, Tablets at IDC, 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.”

Though slate tablets, like the iPad or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, continued their decline, they still accounted for 87.6 percent of all shipments, IDC reported. Nonetheless, the slate tablet segment has become synonymous with the low-end of the market. This may be good news for vendors like Amazon that depend on hardware sales to increase their ecosystem size; however, it has not aided vendors who rely solely on greater margins for hardware sales.

Here are some vendor highlights from the IDC report:

  • Apple’s iPad faces an uncertain future, as users will seek to replace their older iPads or PCs, rather than purchase net new additions. The latest iPad Pro 9.7” and more business friendly storage options for the older iPad Pro 12.9” are considered healthy additions to the iPad lineup. The recent price decrease on the iPad Air 2 should help convince those who were undecided on upgrading their older iPad 2s.

  • Second-ranking Samsung experienced a 28.1 percent decline in year-over-year growth. Its Q1 2015 market share was 18 percent, but its Q1 2016 market share was only 15.2 percent. Shipments dropped from 8.3 million in Q1 2015 to 6 million in Q1 2016. The launch of the detachable TabPro S has been lackluster due to the high price point, though this is regarded as a short-term problem, as Samsung typically offers various products at different price points.

  • No. 3 Amazon saw a phenomenal 5,421.7 percent year-over-year growth. Its Q1 2015 market share was miniscule at 0.1 percent and no recorded shipments. Yet, in Q1 2016, the market share rose to 5.7 percent on shipments of 2.2 million units. Importantly, the IDC report noted that Amazon’s Q1 2015 lineup featured a 6-inch tablet that was not counted by IDC, as it did not meet the firm’s judging requirements.

  • Lenovo, in fourth place, saw a 13.8 percent decline in year-over-year growth. The manufacturer of Android slate tablets saw its market share hold steady at 5.5 percent in Q1 2016, compared to 5.4 percent in Q1 2015. However, shipments dipped from 2.5 million units in 2015’s first quarter, compared to 2.2 million in 2016’s first quarter. Lenovo has introduced some detachables and increased its Windows 10 portfolio, IDC reported.

  • Huawei rounded out the top 5 with a robust 82.2 percent year-over-year growth. The company nearly doubled its market share, from 2.4 percent in Q1 2015 to 5.2 percent in Q1 2016, boosting its shipments from 1.1 million to 2.1 million during those same periods.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].