Tablet sales are under pressure. Unlike smartphones, there is much less of an incentive for consumers to upgrade devices after one or two years and in many cases, this is because the tablet is less of a ubiquitous tool around the house as it was perhaps once thought. As the average size of smartphones increases, this is encroaching into small tablet territory – and large tablets are too big to easily carry around without a small bag or similar, but too small for family viewing entertainment. Nevertheless, customers are still buying tablets but growth has significantly slowed down: overall tablet sales are still rising in many many markets, but the rate of their rise is reduced. As with smartphones, there are different segments of tablets – the expensive premium tablets are joined by less expensive mid-range devices, with lower level, inexpensive models at the bottom of the range. The Indian market has witnessed something of a change in tablet buying with more and more consumers opting for the less expensive and larger models over the premium, smaller manufacturers.
In the fourth quarter of 2015, budget tablet manufacturer, Datawind, captured almost 21% of the Indian tablet market. Other manufacturers struggled with a headline with the IDC reporting Samsung showing a decline of shipments approaching 9%, Micromax of over 45% and iBall, 24%. Overall, during 2015 the Indian tablet market grew to 3.8 million units, up 8.2% compared with 2014 although the IDC explained that there was a sharp dip in 2014 tablet sales. Overall Indian tablet market shares show that Samsung has captured 15.8% and Micromax, 15.5%. Lenovo posted a sharp gain to 13.8%: the IDC believes that Lenovo’s sales is being boosted by businesses buying tablets for employees. As for Datawind, this manufacturer concentrates on the sub $100 tablet market. It has pushed sales ahead through a combination of building the devices in India, offering free Internet bundled tablets and an increase in online marketing.
One identified trend is that sales of Microsoft and Intel powered devices have increased during 2015. Microsoft Windows tablet sales tripled in 2015 and Intel-powered devices were up by almost 50% – with both Acer and Lenovo given credit for supporting the alternative platforms. Another trend that the IDC has identified is that convertible tablet sales have risen and this is expected to continue. Domestic Indian manufacturer, Micromax, doubled sales in Q4 2015 compared with Q4 2014 but perhaps more telling, more than one third of tablets sold were convertible or detachable devices. Convertible tablet sales were slow during the early months of 2015 but started to accelerate from the second quarter. Furthermore, by the fourth quarter there were convertible designs available for “all three major OS platforms,” according to the IDC. Most convertible devices sold have a price of between $200 to $300 and are sold by local manufacturers. The IDC expects detachable tablet sales to continue to rise.