Tablets Continue to Decline, Though Top Makers Hold Steady
The tablet market continued to fall in the second quarter of 2017, according to a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC), reaching 37.9 million shipments, a 3.4 percent decline compared to the same period last year.
"There's been a resetting of expectations for detachables as competing convertible notebooks offered a convincing and familiar computing experience for many," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in a prepared statement. "To date, the 2-in-1 market was bifurcated as Apple and Microsoft led with detachables while the PC vendors led with convertibles. Though that is slowly changing as smartphone vendors and traditional PC vendors begin to offer compelling alternatives, the pace has been rather slow as Surface and iPad Pro still dominate shelf space and mindshare."
Despite a contracting market, the top five vendors all managed to grow market share, and three even managed to grow shipments, while only one saw a decline in the number of devices sold.
Shipments of Apple tablets improved from 10 million units in the second quarter of last year to 11.4 million units in this year's second quarter, improving market share from 25.4 percent to 30.1 percent.
"Apple positioned itself quite well during the quarter by consolidating its lineup and introducing two new iPads," according to IDC. "The new iPad's relatively low price point triggered some consumers to upgrade their aging devices, and demand for this new tablet finally caused a turnaround for Apple's iPad business. Meanwhile Apple's transition towards detachable tablets continued with the launch of the 10.5" iPad Pro and a major update to iOS (expected later this year)."
Samsung shipments held steady at 6 million for both quarters, which was good enough for an improvement in market share from 15.4 to 15.8 percent.
"Samsung was able to gain share simply by sustaining flat growth in this declining market," according to information released by IDC. "The company appears to be the third major contender in detachables, after Apple and Microsoft, and in typical Samsung fashion offers multiple detachable tablets with a choice of either Windows or Android. On a worldwide basis, Samsung's slates have a significant presence though, like many other vendors, this portion of the business continues to struggle."
Huawei improved from 2.1 million shipments and a 5.3 percent market share in the second quarter of 2016 to 3 million shipments and 6 percent of the market in the most recent quarter.
In fourth place, Amazon is up from 1.6 million sales and a 4.1 percent share of the market to 2.4 million shares for 6.4 percent.
Lenovo was the only top-five tablet vendor to see a fall in both shipments, from 2.5 to 2.2 million, and share, from 6.5 to 5.7 percent.
"The tablet market has essentially become a race to see if the burgeoning detachables category can grow fast enough to offset the long-term erosion of the slate market," said Linn Huang, research director of Devices & Displays at IDC, in a prepared statement. "From that lens, the second quarter was a slight righting of the ship and there is still much to be hopeful about in the back half of 2017. New product launches from Microsoft and Apple are generally accompanied by subsequent quarters of inflated shipments, the reintroduction of Windows to the ARM platform could help remedy the aforementioned hollowing of the middle of the market and we expect a proliferation of Chrome OS-based detachables in time for the holidays."
Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.