The Android tablet market declined during the last quarter of 2016, the latest report conducted by Strategy Analytics reveals. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) shipped 40.3 million Android tablets between last October and December, 10 percent less in comparison to the previous year when they've shipped almost 45 million tablets. Android's share of the global tablet market also declined by two percentage points in comparison to 2015, and Strategy Analytics attributes that trend to the rise of cheap Windows tablets. In general, the tablet market also declined over the course of 2016 as global device shipments were nine-percent smaller than in 2015. Samsung shipped just over eight million Android tablets during the fourth quarter of last year, which is a ten-percent decrease compared to Q4 2015. However, other OEMs that manufacture cheaper tablets like Lenovo and Huawei did well over the course of 2016 in terms of growth. Amazon also recorded steady growth, mostly thanks to the Fire 7 tablet, Strategy Analytics believes.
One of the main factors driving the growth of Windows tablets at the expense of their Android counterparts is allegedly related to the fact that Microsoft hasn't refreshed its Surface Pro lineup since late 2015, which gave other manufacturers enough time to design and produce cheaper clones, the report states. Still, that state of affairs will likely change in the near future as Microsoft is expected to launch the Surface Pro 5 at some point this year. Until that happens, Android tablets will probably continue to decline as the average consumer is still seemingly more likely to purchase a cheap Windows tablet than a cheap Android one. That isn't to say that Android's lead in the market is seriously threatened seeing how devices powered by Google's operating system still account for approximately 63 percent of the global tablet market, Strategy Analytics claims.
Android tablets may stop declining in the coming months, shortly after Mobile World Congress 2017 takes place. Several consumer electronics manufacturers are expected to debut new Android tablets at the Barcelona-based trade show in hopes that their new devices will do a better job of competing with Windows tablets and iPads. The Galaxy Tab S3 is one such device, though it remains to be seen whether that product manages to turn around Samsung's declining tablet business.