IDC Tablet Shipments Study Shows a Market Stuck in the Doldrums

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2015-11-04
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    IDC Tablet Shipments Study Shows a Market Stuck in the Doldrums
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    IDC Tablet Shipments Study Shows a Market Stuck in the Doldrums

    Tablet shipments are down, with no turnaround expected, at least in the near future, even for the iPad. Can hybrids give the market a much needed boost?
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    Apple Still Leads the Pack Even as Market Share Slides
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    Apple Still Leads the Pack Even as Market Share Slides

    Apple is still the market leader in tablets. During the third quarter, the company shipped 9.9 million units worldwide, giving it 20.3 percent of the market. During the same period in 2014, Apple's market share stood at 22.1 percent. What's worse, the company's year-over-year shipments are down 19.7 percent. All signs indicate that device buyers aren't especially excited about buying iPads or any other brand of tablet.
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    Samsung Has Another Down Year for Tablets
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    Samsung Has Another Down Year for Tablets

    Like Apple, Samsung has had another rough quarter. The company shipped 8 million tablets during the third quarter, down 17.1 percent year-over-year. IDC says that Samsung's "everlasting marketing push" has helped the company get closer to matching Apple's shipments. But the report cautioned that Samsung has to do even more to catch up to Apple.
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    Lenovo Results Are a Mixed Bag
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    Lenovo Results Are a Mixed Bag

    Over the last several quarters, Lenovo shipments have been up year-over-year, but IDC says that the company's growth has slowed a bit. During the third quarter, Lenovo shipments were up just 0.9 percent to 3.1 million units. However, thanks in part to the popularity of hybrid tablets, IDC believes that Lenovo is well-positioned to succeed in the coming quarters.
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    Asus Struggles to Keep Its Market Position
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    Asus Struggles to Keep Its Market Position

    Asus has been able to stay among the top five tablet makers during the past few years thanks mainly to its Transformer line of products. But it's struggling to hold on to its place in the market. In the third quarter, the company's year-over-year shipments were down 43.4 percent to 1.9 million units. IDC says that Asus has lost "momentum," and by the look of things, it could find itself out of the top five eventually if it can't turn things around.
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    Where Did Huawei Come From?
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    Where Did Huawei Come From?

    Huawei has become the world's largest China-based smartphone maker, and now it's one of the world's largest tablet vendors. The company shipped 1.8 million tablets in the third quarter, up 147.9 percent compared with the same period in 2014. According to IDC, Huawei achieved such growth by delivering tablets that come with voice calling and targeting emerging markets where customers contend with "low broadband penetration."
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    Tablet Owners Stretch Out the Upgrade Life Cycle
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    Tablet Owners Stretch Out the Upgrade Life Cycle

    The tablet market's troubles are due in one respect to longer life cycles, IDC Program Director Ryan Reith argues. While years ago, consumers were buying tablets every one or two years to replace their current models, that life cycle has changed. Now, consumers are picking up new tablets every four years, making it harder for companies to appeal to customers in developed countries. It's a huge issue that's putting a strain on market shipments.
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    Look for Hybrid Tablets to Be a Rising Market Force
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    Look for Hybrid Tablets to Be a Rising Market Force

    Hybrids are one of the only device types to actually prop up the tablet market in the third quarter. In fact, IDC reported that shipments of these two-in-one devices, which have detachable keyboards that can notebook PCs into tablets, actually climbed in the third quarter. That said, these so-called "detachables" represented just single-digit percentage points of total device shipments. Looking ahead, "IDC expects this share to increase dramatically over the next 18 months," the company reported.
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    Big-Screen Smartphones Affecting Tablet Sales
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    Big-Screen Smartphones Affecting Tablet Sales

    Another issue for tablets is the rising popularity of big-screen smartphones, or "phablets." IDC says that big-screen smartphones have started to cannibalize sales of small-screen tablets, thanks to their added functionality, such as their ability to make phone calls. Small slates were once an important driver for the tablet sales. Now, they're being ignored, IDC's data shows.
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    The Coming Smartphone-PC Maker Vendor Battle
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    The Coming Smartphone-PC Maker Vendor Battle

    IDC says a battle is starting to brew in the tablet market. While smartphone makers have traditionally built tablets, with the influx of hybrids, PC makers are now seeing an opportunity. IDC believes that smartphone makers and PC makers will collide in the tablet market. Which group will win?
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    The Market Is Simply Weak
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    The Market Is Simply Weak

    All of this data comes down to one final point: The tablet market is extremely weak. During the third quarter, tablet makers shipped 48.7 million devices worldwide, a 12.6 percent decline compared with the same period in 2014. Furthermore, all other tablet makers after the top five saw shipments fall 9.6 percent. In IDC's estimation, the tablet market does not look like it's primed for a comeback in 2016. Those hybrids, however, could help boost an otherwise troubled marketplace.
 

Research firm IDC has confirmed what analysts and market researchers have been saying for months: Tablet shipments remain in the doldrums. IDC, which monitors the tablet market on a quarterly basis, revealed in a recent Worldwide Tracker report that not only were tablet shipments down for nearly all mobile device makers in the third quarter, but looking ahead, no turnaround is expected. Not even the mighty Apple, which has been the leading tablet maker for the last several years since the introduction of its iPad in 2010, has performed any better than most of its competitors in the tablet market. Despite those troubles, there are a few positive developments, including one company that has actually seen its tablet shipments soar during the past quarter. Hybrid tablets with detachable keyboards are another modest bright point. In this slide show, eWEEK takes a closer look at IDC's recent findings on tablet shipments to reveal the bad, the ugly and, yes, maybe even some of the good. Read on to learn more about the current state of the worldwide tablet market.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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