Tablet Market Continues to Decline

The worldwide tablet market continued to decline in Q3 2016, according to IDC, which said shipments fell 14.7% year-over-year to 43 million units. However, that was up sequentially – 9.8% over the second quarter of 2016 because large vendors prepared for the holiday quarter. Low-cost detachables (tablets with detachable keyboards) costing below $200 bolstered the tablet market but Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC, said many low-cost detachables deliver a low-cost experience. “The race to the bottom is something we have already experienced with slates and it may prove detrimental to the market in the long run as detachables could easily be seen as disposable devices rather than potential PC replacements,” Ubrani said.

Apple’s iPad Air and Mini lines have the biggest mass appeal and account for more than two-thirds of its shipments this quarter. Apple’s tablet shipments declined 6.2% year-over-year but total iPad revenues were flat for the quarter because of the iPad Pro.

Samsung continued to hold the number two position it had, a decline of 19.3% compared to the third quarter of 2015.

Amazon was third with sales of its Fire tablets. Lenovo continued to lead in Asia/Pacific, excluding Japan, as well as Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

IDC said Huawei’s strong presence in the smartphone market and its brand recognition has made it a player in the tablet market. It said over two-thirds of Huawei’s tablets are sold with cellular connectivity but unlike rivals, its cellular tablets are priced similarly to its Wi-Fi only tablets.

What IDC Did Not Say

IDC did not say but should have said:

  • Tablets are used primarily used at home and so do not get the physical wear and tear that smartphones get.
  • Most tablets are used for much fewer hours per day.
  • Tablets last 2-3 times longer than smartphones and don’t need replacing as often.
  • Smartphones now come with displays large enough that many of their users don’t use a tablet at all or only infrequently.
  • Tablets have not gotten new innovative features as smartphones have.
  • Tablets are rarely used as cameras and so get used outdoors less often.

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