Amid slowing device sales worldwide, the tablet market too, has continued its movement along a downward curve. The last quarter of 2015 was the fifth straight three month period that witnessed declining sales and Samsung and Apple, the market leaders, are among the worst hit.
According to the latest IDC report, the last quarter saw a total of 65.9 million units shipped, down 13.7 percent from the 76.4 million units sold in the fourth quarter of 2014. The performance of the niche was little better when considering the whole of 2015, and shipments were at a meagre 206.8 million as compared to the 230.1 million shipped in 2014.
The past year — and the last quarter — also displayed some pretty interesting trends.
For one, despite the downswing of the overall market, detachable devices are doing pretty great. In fact, while your regular tablet set a new record of negative growth at -21.1%, detachable tablets went on to more than double their shipments, as compared to the last quarter of 2014.
Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, puts the sudden growth down to an influx of new devices from almost all major manufacturers.
This quarter was unique as we had new detachables in the market from all three of the major platform players.
He also went on to comment on the fact that yes, Apple’s latest Pad managed to ace others, here as well.
Despite lukewarm reviews, the iPad Pro was the clear winner this season as it was the top selling detachable, surpassing notable entries from Microsoft and other PC vendors.
What’s more, it seems like the space has managed to give Apple and Microsoft an arena where they can face Google’s Android platform with improved odds — better than smartphones lest ways, where the tech giant still dominates.
It’s also important to note that the transition towards detachable tablet has presented positive opportunities for both Apple and Microsoft. However, Google’s recent foray into this space has been rather lackluster as the Android platform will require a lot more refinement to achieve any measurable success.
So, the growth of detachables is probably good news for Apple and Microsoft. Meanwhile, the fact that with improving performance, consumers are increasingly preferring detachables to personal computers is leading to a spike in sales.
Breaking the market down in terms of manufacturers, Apple has continued its reign, despite taking losses. Thanks to the iPad Pro, the company was also able to cut down on losses and entice users towards its higher end devices.
Despite rocking the less favoured android platform, Samsung has managed to hang on to its second position among the top 5 tablet vendors, thanks to its deep catalogue of varying sizes and price points — a trend it has borrowed from its smartphone business, but is hugely criticised.
Amazon meanwhile has managed to shock everyone with a staggering growth of 175.7%. The holiday season, combined with the $50 tablet devices the company put up for sale, managed to boost revenue and take its growth off the charts. However, don’t expect the trend to continue for long. After all, there are only so many kindles you can own.
Leaving Lenovo and Huawei. While the former has kept on — and can be expected to stay on — track thanks to the range of tablet it offers — including the Yoga, MIIX, and Thinkpad brands — the latter, after surprising heavyweights in the smartphone market, is slowly but surely entrenching itself by its cellular enabled tabs.
Whether that strategy succeeds or not — is something only time will tell. Meanwhile, don’t expect much from the pure tablets department, which is expected to continue losing ground to detachables, as the year progresses.