It's no secret that tablet sales pale in comparison to phone sales. New IDC numbers show a further decline for global tablet shipments in Q4 2019.
Global tablet shipments decline further still in Q4 2019
In Q4 2019, global tablet shipments fell by 0.6%. This is a sharp decline, though not as steep as the 1.5% decline for the entire 2019 year. The global decline in tablet shipments indicates that most mobile users are phone users first and tablet users last by a long stretch.
Amazon's tablet shipments declined the most of all Android vendors, with a 29% Year-over-Year (YoY) decline in profit. The online retailer shipped 3.3 million tablet units in Q4 2019 as opposed to 4.7 million units in Q4 2018.
Samsung had a loss of 0.6 million, or 600,000, in tablet sales in Q4. The Android giant had a loss of 7.4% Year-over-Year (YoY) in Q4 2019 as compared to Q4 2018. Samsung regained its second place in the tablet market, but the company didn't have much competition. Huawei only sold 4 million units, 100,000 less than it sold a year prior. Amazon with its 29% decline over the year didn't put up much of a fight. And the "others" category, consisting of all the Android OEMs that didn't make it in the top, saw an 11% YoY decline in tablet sales. Lenovo was the only Android OEM with a gain, though it only sold 200,000 more tablets at the end of 2019 than it did in the same quarter the previous year.
Apple sits at the top of tablet sales
Apple, to no surprise, sits atop global tablet sales in Q4. This isn't surprising, considering that just about everything Apple makes sells like hotcakes. Apple is the sole distributor of its iOS operating system for iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple Watch. The fruit company is just a popular seller of mobile devices. What keeps Apple atop the global competition is often a mystery, but the numbers don't lie. Apple is doing something right, though what it's doing right is debatable.
Looking at the numbers: interpreting global tablet shipment decline
What explains the numbers seen above? Well, Apple is in a market of its own, to be honest. All other tablet makers use Google's Android software with their own customized "skin" or overlay atop Google's software. Apple, on the other hand, uses its own unique take. And for some, that unique experience is what sets it apart from the pack.
When it comes to Android, it's clear that tablets aren't selling. At least Android tablets aren't. Samsung has been the frontrunner in the Android tablet market for years now, and it seems to be ahead of the Android pack by miles at this point. In fact, it's a safe bet to assume that Samsung is the reason why Android tablets are still alive and kicking — even if barely. Android users are phone lovers first, possible tablet users second. There just seems to be little interest in Android tablets.
Why Android tablets aren't selling
What could be a few reasons for this? Well, there's the obvious answer: Android users have always had bigger phone screens than iOS users. Their affinity for larger screens has replaced the need for a tablet in their lives.
Next, few Android OEMs are designing tablets. LG isn't making many (or any, to be honest). Sony isn't designing any. Motorola, Xiaomi, other Chinese OEMs, etc., aren't designing Android tablets. Android OEMs are all about phones, with the exception of Samsung, Huawei, and Lenovo. These three companies continue to sell tablets in a dying market. Some would say that if one knows the Titanic is sinking, why not just jump off the ship and save oneself?
One thing Android OEMs must do is design more tablets. But Android companies that make little from phones know that tablet design is a waste of money. If one item doesn't sell, why would another? Samsung's phones sell, but Samsung likes high pricing for its devices. The company released a Galaxy S10e last year. However, at a $750 price point with a 3,000mAh battery, it is the last thing users want.
And when it comes to devices such as the Galaxy Tab S6 4G, Samsung shows that it loves living the high-pricing lifestyle. The device comes in at $650. Though, to Samsung's credit, it does make $230 tablets (Galaxy Tab S5e, anyone?), many of its greatest tablets come with high prices.
Mobile users are now in the $1,000 phone era, but phones didn't start that expensive. They started at affordable price points such as that of the Galaxy S10e. When it comes to tablets, a market where Android users could care less, Samsung will need to find some way to inaugurate a revolution in the Android tablet space. Greater specs and more affordable price points, like the Galaxy A series, may be the way forward for tablets. With the Korean giant announcing the 5G-enabled Galaxy Tab S6 this week, now is a perfect time to drop the price globally on the Galaxy Tab S6 4G model.
If Samsung is willing to compromise on price, it just may find more financial growth down the line. Samsung's 10% profit decline in Q4 2018 versus the year before shows a greater need for growth in the tablet market.