According to latest data released by market research, analysis and advisory firm International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide tablet shipments have now declined for the fourth straight quarter. While market leaders Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics continue to remain at the top of the heap in terms of total shipments, both companies are facing steadily-eroding market shares, if data from IDC is to be believed. According to IDC's quarterly tablet tracker, the worldwide tablet market contracted drastically in Q3, 2015, by as much as 12.6 percent on a year-on-year basis to 48.7 million units. While vendors managed to ship an estimated 581.9 million units globally last year, signifying a growth of 36 percent over 2013, the number is expected to be significantly lower this year on account of the ongoing downturn in the fortunes of the tablet industry.
As evident from the image below, IDC's research shows that all leading tablet vendors have seen significant reduction in their tablet shipments in Q3, 2015, as compared to the third quarter of last year. The only exceptions seem to be Chinese tech giants Lenovo and Huawei. While the former managed to increase its shipments marginally by 0.9 percent YoY this past quarter, Huawei has been having a great time of it of late both with its smartphones as well as its tablet business. The company reportedly managed to increase their shipments by a whopping 147.9 percent, over an admittedly low base of only 700,000 units shipped in Q3, 2014.
According to Mr. Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, one of the main reasons for the slowdown of the market is the comparatively longer update cycle for tablets compared to smartphones. "We continue to get feedback that tablet users are holding onto devices upwards of four years. We believe the traditional slate tablet has a place in the personal computing world. However, as the smartphone installed base continues to grow and the devices get bigger and more capable, the need for smaller form factor slate tablets becomes less clear. With shipment volumes slowing over four consecutive quarters, the market appears to be in transition".
IDC however noted that it expects market conditions to get better over the next year and a half, what with newer form factors like detachable tablets coming to the fore. Mr. Tom Mainelli, Program Vice President, Devices & Displays at IDC, chipped in with his thoughts regarding the issue, sounding cautiously optimistic about the prospects of the tablet sector over the next few quarters. According to him, "The first generation of detachable tablets failed to gain much traction, as they represented a series of compromises in terms of both operating system and hardware that few consumers or businesses were willing to accept. The devices shipping now represent a clear evolution of both OS and hardware, and it's our expectation that both home and pro users will begin to embrace the form factor in larger numbers going forward".