Tech Trends

iPad Drops Off as Tablets Continue To Make Gains, Propelled by Education Spending

Back-to-school spending in the United States helped to maintain the double-digit growth of tablets worldwide, according to newly released preliminary data for the third quarter.

Market research firm IDC reported that 53.8 million tablets shipped around the world in the three-month period ended Sept. 30. That's an increase of 11.5 percent over the same period last year and a peak for 2014, up 11.2 percent from the previous quarter this year.

According to IDC, in the United States, growth outpaced the worldwide average, hitting 18.5 percent in 3Q 2014. That was fueled, in part, by back-to-school promotions.

Apple remained the No. 1 vendor, but its share dropped below one-fourth during the quarter. Apple's shipments were 12.3 million, down 12.8 percent from the same period last year (14.1 million units), and it's market share fell from 29.2 percent in 3Q 2013 to 22.8 percent in 3Q 2014.

No. 2 Samsung, meanwhile, grew 5.6 percent year over year to 9.9 million units, but its market share fell one point to 18.3 percent.

"Apple, during its earnings call, noted that the iPad's lifecycle is extending," according to IDC. "Combined with consumer anticipation and the release of the latest iPhones, IDC saw a decline in overall iPad shipment volume in 3Q14. Although Apple has recently updated and expanded its iPad lineup to its widest offering ever, IDC still expects 2014 to be the year of the iPhone. Samsung has slowly begun to focus on markets like North America and Middle East and Africa (MEA), where low-cost Asian vendors haven't been able to gain a foothold just yet. Although Samsung's share declined slightly compared to last year, it was able to experience 5.6 percent growth and was able to maintain its number 2 rank among the top 5."

No. 3 ASUS saw relatively flat shipments at 3.5 million units. Its share in the quarter declined from 7.4 percent last year to 6.5 percent this year.

Lenovo experienced double-digit growth in the quarter, increasing 30.6 percent to 3 million units. Its overall share grew from 4.8 percent to 5.7 percent.

Meanwhile relative newcomer RCA hit the top 5 for the first time with 2.6 million units, a 194 percent increase from the same period last year. Its market share was 4.9 percent, up from 1.8 percent in 3Q 2013.

"RCA was a surprise entry into the top 5 list due to its distribution deal with some of the largest retailers in the world," according to IDC. "With low-cost devices driving volume, RCA's tablets have been a hit during the back-to-school season and will likely be in high demand during Black Friday and the upcoming holiday season."

"Not only is the U.S. market one of the largest for tablets, but third quarter results also indicate that this is where the growth is," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC research director for tablets, in a prepared statement. "We saw Verizon continuing to sell connected tablets at a fast pace, a strategy that we believe other carriers will replicate in following quarters. We also saw RCA enter the top 5, impacting the entire U.S. market and worldwide ranking with one large deal linked to back-to-school and channel fill ahead of Black Friday. Those two elements resulted in the US tablet market growing at 18.5 percent year-over-year compared to the worldwide market growing at 11.5 percent annually."

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).