FRAMINGHAM, MA – The worldwide tablet market continued its slump, as vendors shipped 43 million units in the third quarter, a year-over-year decline of 14.7%, according to the International Data Corp. Third quarter shipments were up 9.8% sequentially.
Low-cost (sub-$200) detachables also reached an all-time high, as vendors like RCA flooded the market. "Unfortunately, many low-cost detachables also deliver a low-cost experience," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "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."
"Beyond the different end-user experience delivered by low- and high-end tablets, we're witnessing real tectonic movements in the market, with slate companion devices sold at the low-end serving a broader platform strategy, like Amazon is doing with Alexa on its Fire Tablets, and more expensive productivity tools closer to true computing and legitimate notebook replacement devices that should manage to keep average prices up," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director, Tablets at IDC.
Despite Apple's marketing push for the iPad Pro, the iPad Air and Mini lines have been the models with mass appeal, accounting for more than two-thirds of its shipments this quarter, says IDC. Although Apple's tablet shipments declined 6.2% year-over-year, total iPad-related revenues were flat for the quarter, thanks to the iPad Pro offering.
Samsung continued to hold the number two position. Fortunately, the negative press from the Note 7 did not bleed over into its tablet business, says the research firm. However, overreliance on the declining slate market led to a decline of 19.3% compared to the third quarter of 2015. Samsung's attempt to enter the detachable market with its TabPro S at the beginning of 2016 seems to have taken a backseat as its price and positioning remain uncompetitive.
The Amazon Prime Day sale in early July led to a huge surge in shipments of its Fire tablets. The already low-priced device was offered at a 30% discount then, and continued to remain popular throughout the rest of the quarter. The new Fire HD 8 released in early October will likely perform well in the holiday quarter, as it follows Amazon's strategy of selling low-cost tablets as a gateway and companion to its ecosystem. It is important to note Amazon's unprecedented growth is partially attributed to the fact that IDC did not include the 6" tablets offered by Amazon in the same quarter last year.
Lenovo continued to maintain its stronghold in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) as well as Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Though the company has many aspirational products across its entire consumer electronics portfolio, none were enough to raise the company's profile in the tablet market, resulting in a 10.8% decline this quarter. While the latest Yoga Book announced at IFA garnered some praise, it is important to note IDC will be counting this as a traditional PC.
Huawei's strong presence in the adjacent smartphone market and overall brand recognition has cascaded into the tablet market. The vendor offers a very strong value proposition, as many of its tablets (over two-thirds) come integrated with cellular connectivity, while maintaining a similar price to rivals who only offer WiFi-enabled devices. Huawei's presence in Asian, European, and Middle Eastern & African markets remains strong.