Global Tablet Market Continues to Wane as Market Leaders Lose Sales

In the second quarter of 2015, overall global tablet sales fell by 7 percent compared to a year ago, while Apple's iPad sales dropped 17.9 percent.

drop in global tablet sales

The news for tablet vendors continues to be lukewarm as demand and shipments are still falling, especially for the higher-priced major brands including Apple and Samsung.

That's the conclusion of new second quarter 2015 global tablet shipment data, which shows overall tablet sales down by 7 percent to 44.7 million compared to the same period one year ago. Apple and Samsung have seen their tablets drop by 17.9 and 12 percent, according to preliminary market data from IDC that was released July 29.

Apple's tablet market share dropped to 10.9 percent on shipments of 10.9 million devices, compared to 13.3 million tablets shipped one year ago when the company held a 27.7 percent market share. Samsung's tablet market share fell to 7.6 percent in Q2 from 8.6 percent one year ago, while its market share fell to 17 percent in Q2 from 18 percent in Q2 2014.

Lenovo was in third place, shipping 2.5 million devices in Q2, compared to 2.4 million one year ago. Lenovo's market share fell by more than half to 2.5 percent, from 4.9 percent one year ago. Huawei and LG each saw increases in shipments to 1.6 million tablets each in Q2, with Huawei up from 800,000 devices and LG up from 500,000 tablets in the same period one year ago, according to the figures.

Jitesh Ubrani, an IDC analyst who co-authored the research, told eWEEK that the data shows that the market is changing even as it is declining.

"Price is part of it," he said, while it also comes down to desirable features being offered by vendors, as well as how the tablets are distributed. "LG has worked closely with mobile telecoms to offer free or heavily-discounted tablets" when purchased with a smartphone and mobile data plan. "Telecoms love it because they increase their subscriber bases and can sell more data use. For the consumer, it's a lower price and you're getting mobile connectivity as well."

What's happening, said Ubrani, is that vendors with lower-priced tablets are seeing increases in sales and market share because their devices offer good performance and features at a lower price, including brands like E FUN, Huawei and others. E FUN's Netbook devices are very popular in the U.S. in stores such as Walmart, said Ubrani.

One area in the tablet market that's doing well is the 2-in-1 market, which turns a tablet into a tablet or a laptop by attaching a keyboard or flipping it around on a special hinge. It's the "saving grace" of the tablet market today," he said. "We're seeing a lot of growth in that segment. Those will not go away. A lot of those have the capability of replacing laptops for users."

Still, the overall fading of the tablet market is likely to continue, he said. "I wouldn't say that it's going to go away. There are still uses for them."

A similar study on consumer tablets released in July by ABI Research found that shipments in the first quarter of 2015 fell by 35 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2014, giving the category its worst quarter-to-quarter decline since it was first tracked in 2009. Year-over-year, the decline was 16 percent, according to an earlier eWEEK report.