Report: Tablet Shipments See First Tumble - InformationWeek

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Report: Tablet Shipments See First Tumble

Apple, Samsung, and Amazon hit a rough patch in tablet and hybrid device sales, which fell for the first time since 2010.

Apple's Next iPads: 13 Things To Expect
Apple's Next iPads: 13 Things To Expect
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The tablet and hybrid device market lagged during the fourth quarter of 2014 with 76.1 million units sold, a decline of 3.2% compared with the 78.6 million devices shipped during the same quarter in 2013. This drop in sales marks the first time that tablet sales have declined since the inception of the market in 2010, reports IDC.

Just about every major tablet vendor had a poor quarter. Apple led the market with 21.4 million iPads sold, a 17.8% decline from the same period in 2013. Second-place Samsung saw an 18.4% decline in shipments with 11 million devices shipped. Amazon had the worst results: Its Kindle Fire sales fell 70%, with just 1.7 million units shipped during its most recent quarter. Asus experienced a decline of 25%. 

Lenovo was the only major tablet vendor to experience growth. Shipments rose to hit 3.7 million units, an increase of 9.1% from the previous year. IDC notes that Lenovo boasts a strong portfolio depth with a wide range of screen sizes that run on both Android and Windows. End-users are shifting towards larger screens and greater productivity, says IDC, which the company was able to accommodate.

[Microsoft Releases Details on Windows 10 for Businesses]

The report confirms a slowdown that vendors have already begun to acknowledge. Apple recently announced a decline in iPad demand during a 2014 holiday quarter that proved successful for iPhone and Mac sales. On the same day IDC released its data, Microsoft temporarily slashed the price of its Surface 3 Pro by $100, as reported by Forbes.

IDC claims that the decline in demand is partially due to a dearth of prominent tablet makers. "The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year," said IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani.

Even though Apple broadened its iPad lineup by continuing older models and cutting its entry price point to $249, the company couldn't generate enough excitement to boost tablet sales. Samsung continued to struggle as learned that mid- to high-priced Android tablets don't fit into a market where they compete with low-cost vendors.

Instead of focusing on tablets, consumers have been showing a greater interest in larger smartphones, or "phablets." Apple benefitted by venturing into this market with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which contributed to a record of 74.5 million iPhones sold. The larger phones are stiff competition for smaller tablets like the iPad Mini.

(Image: Apple)
(Image: Apple)

Consumers' preference for smartphones isn't the only factor inhibiting tablet performance. Most people don't purchase upgraded tablets in the same way that they chase new smartphones. In addition, studies show that people who buy new tablets frequently give their old devices to family and friends, which puts a greater dent in sales.

IDC predicts future growth in the tablet market despite news of its recent decline. Shipments for the full year 2014 showed an increase of 4.4% with a total of 229.6 million devices sold. New technologies, and the launch of Windows 10, will propel its momentum.

"Microsoft's new OS, a general shift towards larger screen form factor and productivity-focused solutions, and technology innovations such as gesture interface that could be introduced in tablets will help the market maintain positive growth in 2015," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets at IDC.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2015 | 9:38:19 PM
I never believed that tablet sales could really sustain their growth anyways. I think that this article proves that to be true. 

PCs are still the most productive devices in my estimation. I think that will change as new and better interfaces such as voice and AI become normal. But we're just not quite there yet. 
Li Tan
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2015 | 2:33:49 AM
Re: Sustain
Exactly - PC remains the most productive device even though it's not as portable as mobile devices. Mobile device cannot completly replace PC. You cannot imagine editing a lengthy Word document on tablet - at least most people will not do it in this way.
Curt Franklin
Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
2/4/2015 | 3:14:35 PM
Re: Sustain
@danielcawrey, I agree that the rate of growth will level off but I think the tablet market will remain fairly strong. I believe that the vendors' big mistake was thinking that the tablet refresh cycle would be like that of the smartphone -- roughly every two years. It's looking much like that of laptops -- roughly every four years.

And I think that another mistake was the belief that tablets would replace laptops. They're different devices for different circumstances: Both useful for the enterprise, just not for the same use case.
User Rank: Apprentice
2/3/2015 | 12:34:54 AM
What would persuade me to replace my iPad air
I love my iPad air, but realized that I should have gotten a model with more memory. What would convince me to replace it is if Apple made a model with an SD card slot or USB connector. That would be very useful to me.
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2015 | 3:07:52 AM
Microsoft's new OS?
How can IDC expect Microsoft's tablet offerings to have an effect on the overall decline in the tablet market when the company is such a small factor in this particular arena? I think the phablet variety of smartphone will relegate tablets to the role of a nitchplayer, used only for special purposes.
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2015 | 7:26:39 AM
PCs soldiers on
Every few years a new technology arrives that is said to be the PC killer. They say the same every time a new console comes out, or when Netbooks became a thing and they slowly falter while laptops and desktops continue to chug along. 

Tablets aren't quite as bad as Netbooks or course, but they have specific uses. It's not going to be the way everyone does everything, as tablets are horrible for a lot of tasks. 
User Rank: Strategist
2/3/2015 | 9:26:44 AM
Re: PCs soldiers on
@whoopty I agree, don't think the tablet will ever replace the PC. Tablets will continue to have a strong presence, of course, because they are pretty useful and people like using them for on-the-go productivity and entertainment. But would I ever fully replace my laptop with a tablet? Probably not.
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