Detachables, The Only Hope For Dying Tablet Market

by CXOtoday News Desk    Feb 02, 2016


Demand for tablets has shifted to those with detachable keyboards, though global shipments of tablet market is dwindling, with IDC reporting a 13.7 per cent year-over-year drop in worldwide tablet sales in the fourth quarter, with 65.9 million units shipped. For the full year, IDC said the number of tablets shopped fell 10.1 per cent from a year earlier to 206.8 million.

The growing preference for detachables, such as the iPad Pro, is the only ray of hope for the once sizzling tablet market that is showing further signs of cooling. For 2015, detachable tablets reached an all-time high of 8.1 million units, the report said.

“One of the biggest reasons why detachables are growing so fast is because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements,” said IDC’s Jean Philippe Bouchard.

IDC reported tablet sales had been gaining momentum through 2014 but failed to live up to many forecasts as consumers shifted to slim laptop computers or phablets and kept their tablets longer than expected before replacing them.

We believe Apple sold just over two million iPad Pros while Microsoft sold around 1.6 million Surface devices, a majority of which were Surface Pro and not the more affordable Surface 3. With these results, it’s clear that price is not the most important feature considered when acquiring a detachable performance is.”

Jitesh Ubrani, an IDC analyst, said the Apple’s iPad Pro “was the clear winner this season as it was the top selling detachable, surpassing notable entries from Microsoft and other PC vendors.”

But Ubrani said Google’s new detachable tablet had a “lackluster” reception and noted that its Android platform “will require a lot more refinement to achieve any measurable success.”

Top Five Tablet Vendors (Shipments in millions) Fourth Quarter 2015


4Q15 UnitShipments


4Q15 MarketShare


4Q14 UnitShipments


4Q14 MarketShare


Year-Over-Year Growth

1. Apple       16.1   24.5%   21.4   28.1%   -24.8%  
2. Samsung       9.0   13.7%   11.0   14.4%   -18.1%  
3.       5.2   7.9%   1.9   2.5%   175.7%  
4. Lenovo       3.2   4.8%   3.7   4.8%   -13.5%  
5. Huawei       2.2   3.4%   1.0   1.3%   124.6%  
Others       30.2   45.8%   37.4   49.0%   -19.2%  
Total       65.9   100.0%   76.4   100.0%   -13.7%  

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, February 1, 2016

Apple’s reign as market leader continued in 4Q15 though the company faced a -24.8% year-over-year decline. With the successful launch of the iPad Pro, the company was able to curb the decline in iPad revenues as its model mix shifted towards higher priced iPads.

Samsung managed to keep its second position in the market though it did decline by -18.1% compared to last year. Samsung is the vendor with the deepest tablet portfolio and manages to reach multiple price points and screen sizes, a position that will facilitate the transition to detachables in 2016.

Amazon’s latest Kindle iteration piqued everyone’s interest with its low price point, allowing Amazon’s annual growth to reach 175.7%, the highest amongst the top 5. Amazon’s success in the tablet market has thus far been purely based on price. While this bodes well during the holiday season, it’s unlikely the Kindle’s success will continue in the remainder of the year, said IDC.

China’s Lenovo and Huawei were fourth and fifth in sales with market shares of 4.8 and 3.4 per cent, respectively. Lenovo maintained its market share in the last quarter of 2015, shipping 3.2 million units for a -13.5% decline over the same period last year. However, the Yoga, MIIX, and Thinkpad brands’ combined traditional PC savoir faire should help Lenovo regain market share in 2016. Huawei’s focus remains on cellular-connected tablets and international expansion. The company has positioned itself well in the adjacent smartphone market and its popularity is likely to bleed over into the tablet market.