Tablet Market Declines 5.4%; Apple maintains lead position

Close-up of female hands touching digital tablet with business diagram

Growing demand for smartphones combined with the lengthening replacement cycle of tablets and strengthening position of traditional PCs left the tablet market in an awkward middle ground that it has not been able to escape. Growth in 3Q17 declined 5.4% year over year, marking the twelfth consecutive quarter of annual decline.

‘There’s a penchant for low-cost slates and this holds true even for premium vendors like Apple,’ said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. ‘However, many of these low-cost slates are simply long-awaited replacements for consumers as first-time buyers are becoming harder to find and the overall installed base for these devices declines further in the coming years.’

Meanwhile, growth in the detachable tablet market has been slower than expected as Apple and Microsoft are essentially the only two vendors supplying the category and other PC vendors champion the convertible PC form factor.

Although Apple still enjoys a substantial premium over competitors, the lower-priced iPad has helped it to cement the first-place position. The latest version of iOS has helped make iPads a more serious PC competitor than ever before but the need for legacy apps (especially in the commercial segment) and strong value offerings from other PC and mobile vendors has prevented iPads from becoming the primary computing device for the masses.

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Samsung offers one of the broadest range of detachable tablets that includes multiple screen sizes and operating systems yet detachable tablets account for less than 10% of its shipments in the quarter. These high-priced, halo devices have led to Samsung’s premium image but the company still relies heavily on the lower cost Tab A and E series. This may create long-term issues as rival tablet vendors often offer products at a better value.

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Huawei and Lenovo managed to tie for fourth place as both companies have maintained a similar strategy of focusing on low-cost devices in Asia/Pacific and Western Europe.

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Top Five Tablet Companies, Worldwide Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, Third Quarter 2017 (preliminary results, shipments in millions)
Vendor3Q17 Unit Shipments3Q17 Market Share3Q16 Unit Shipments3Q16 Market ShareYear-Over-Year Growth
1. Apple10.325.8%9.321.9%11.4%
2. Samsung6.015.0%6.515.4%-7.9%
3. Amazon.com4.410.9%3.17.5%38.7%
4. Huawei3.07.5%2.56.0%18.8%
4. Lenovo3.07.4%2.76.5%8.9%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, November 3, 2017


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