Tablet Shipments Decline for Fourth Straight Quarter

Global tablet shipments declined in the third quarter of this year, marking a full year of contracting sales for the devices, according to a new report form International Data Corp. (IDC). The quarter saw a year-over-year decline of 12.6 percent to move just 48.7 million units in the most recent quarter.

Apple continued to hold the top spot with a market share of 20.3 percent, though it also saw the second-largest largest year-over-year decline, 19.7 percent, of the top five tablet providers. That market share is down from 22.1 percent in the same period last year and total devices shipped is similarly down, from 12.3 million in last year's third quarter to 9.9 million in the most recent quarter.

"Apple still holds the top position in the worldwide tablet market, although the days of deifying the iPad as the ultimate tablet may have come to an end," according to an IDC news release. "Apple's self-cannibalization and increasing competition from PC vendors with detachable tablets have both contributed to a decline in iPad shipments. However, the impending launch of the iPad Pro may serve as a silver lining as the market shifts towards productivity-enabling devices."

Samsung remained in second place with 8 million shipments and a 16.5 percent market share, both down from 9.7 million and 17.4 percent, respectively, in the same period of 2014.

"Samsung's everlasting marketing push has once again helped close the gap between itself and top rival Apple," according to information released by IDC. "Though the Galaxy-maker is one of the few remaining premium Android tablet vendors, the bulk of their shipments have focused on the low end. The market's shift towards detachables has also piqued Samsung's interest as the vendor continues to launch new devices like the Tab S2 with an optional keyboard to cater to this growing segment."

Lenovo held steady at 3.1 million shipments, the same number shipped in the third quarter of 2014 and good enough to improve its market share from 5.5 percent to 6.3 percent and overtake the number three spot.

"In this down market, Lenovo's flat growth should be viewed as a positive sign that the vendor is committed to being a market leader and has the means to achieve that goal," according to IDC.

Asus slipped from third place to fourth as total shipments declined from 3.4 million in 2014's third quarter to just 1.9 million in the most recent quarter. The company's market share fell from 6.1 percent to 4 percent.

"Asus' reputation for low-cost detachable devices helped drive volume over the past year," according to an IDC news release. "However, this quarter the vendor has struggled to maintain momentum in the detachable market as its refresh (earlier this year) of the Transformer lineup hasn't been as successful and, more importantly, other vendors have been able to offer similar devices at comparable price points. Asus has still been able to capture a spot in the top 5 largely due to its low-cost Android tablet portfolio."

Huawei more than doubled both shipments, from .7 million units to 1.8 million, and market share, from 1.3 to 3.7 percent, when comparing the third quarter of 2014 to this year's third quarter, largely on the strength of cellular-capable devices. "With over two-thirds of its tablets being mobile connected, the vendor has been able to appeal to the growing trend of tablets used for voice calling and tablets used in markets with low broadband penetration," according to IDC.

"We continue to get feedback that tablet users are holding onto devices upwards of four years," said Ryan Reith, program director for IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in a prepared statement. "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."

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