The global market for tablet computers ended the year with a whimper, as the once sizzling market showed further signs of cooling, according to numbers from a market tracker.
Research firm IDC reported a 13.7% year-over-year drop in worldwide tablet sales in the fourth quarter, with 65.9 million units shipped. For the full year, IDC said the number of tablets shopped fell 10.1% from a year earlier to 206.8 million.
Tablet sales had been gaining momentum through 2014, but failed to live up to many forecasts as consumers shifted to slim laptop computers and kept their tablets longer than expected before replacing them.
One bright spot in the tablet market, however, has been the “detachable” segment with removable keyboards such as the iPad Pro, which is growing at a strong pace, according to IDC. For 2015, detachable tablets reached an all-time high of 8.1 million units, the report said.
“One of the biggest reasons why detachables are growing so fast is because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements,” IDC’s Jean Philippe Bouchard said. “We believe Apple sold just over 2 million iPad Pros while Microsoft sold around 1.6 million Surface devices, a majority of which were Surface Pro and not the more affordable Surface 3. With these results, it’s clear that price is not the most important feature considered when acquiring a detachable — performance is.”
Jitesh Ubrani, an IDC analyst, said the Apple iPad Pro “was the clear winner this season, as it was the top-selling detachable, surpassing notable entries from Microsoft and other PC vendors.”
But Ubrani said Google’s new detachable tablet had a “lackluster” reception and noted that its Android platform “will require a lot more refinement to achieve any measurable success.”
Apple kept its position at the top of the overall tablet market with fourth quarter sales of 16.1 million units, a market share of 24.5% despite a drop in unit sales of nearly 25%.
Amazon on Fire (Yes, Pun Intended)
Samsung was second with 9 million units and a 13.7% share, while Amazon took third place sales of 5.2 million and a 7.9% share.
While Amazon has not publicly released sales data for its Fire and Kindle devices, IDC said it appeared to gain traction with its bargain tablets, priced as low as $50.
According to IDC, Amazon tablet sales surged 175.7% in the past quarter, but said its success “has thus far been purely based on price,” adding that “while this bodes well during the holiday season, it’s unlikely the Kindle’s success will continue in the remainder of the year.”
China’s Lenovo and Huawei were fourth and fifth in sales with market shares of 4.8% and 3.4%, respectively.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016