Only Detachable Tablets To Grow In 2016: IDC

by CXOtoday News Desk    Mar 09, 2016


Overall tablet sales are looking at a 5.9% drop for 2016, reports analyst firm IDC. But by 2017, IDC said, the rise of keyboard-detachable tablets - like the Microsoft Surface Book, the Apple iPad Pro, and the Google Pixel C - will return the tablet market to stable, if single-digit, growth.

In the fourth quarter ending December 2015, IDC reported a 13.7% year-over-year drop in worldwide tablet sales, with 65.9 million units of tablets 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.

Demand for tablets has shifted to those with detachable keyboards, though global shipments of tablet market is dwindling, and it’s Microsoft and Apple iPad Pro that’s poised to take full advantage of the rise of the detachable. For 2015, detachable tablets reached an all-time high of 8.1 million units in the otherwise cold tablet market, said the research firm.

“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 projects that Windows 10 devices, like the Surface Book laptop and Surface Pro 4 tablet, will ride that wave to a 74.6% share of the detachable tablet market by 2020, up from 53.3% in 2016.

Microsoft’s growth will come at Apple’s expense, with that same report projecting that the iPad will go from 28.5% market share in detachable tablets today to 7.3% share in 2020. Currently, Apple’s only detachable tablet is the gigantic iPad Pro, although there are rumors that the secretive company will soon debut a smaller model.

Android detachable tablets like the Google Pixel C will stay pretty steady, IDC predicts, with 18.2% marketshare in 2016 and an estimated 18.1% in 2020. Tablets with detachable keyboards represented only 8% of the broader tablet market in 2015, but they will account for about 30% of the market in 2020, IDC researchers said.

In fact, detachable tablets increasingly look like the future of the broader PC market, no matter which operating system you favor. IDC has previously calculated that detachable tablets were actually already saving the shrinking PC industry. According to the past report, IDC estimates that the PC market’s expected 3.1% decline next year becomes a positive 1% to 2% of growth. This is a moderate growth, but any increase is better than the alternative. 

In Q4 2015, IDC showed 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,” Bouchard said.