Tablet sale slips as Apple, Samsung drop share in Q3

The tablet market fell 14.7 percent year on year and increased 9.8 percent quarter on quarter to 43 million units in the third quarter of 2016, says IDC.

Strategy Analytics says that the global tablet size dipped 10 percent to 46.6 million.

Low-cost (sub-$200) detachables also reached an all-time high as vendors like RCA flooded the market.

“We’re witnessing real tectonic movements in the market with slate companion devices sold at the low-end serving a broader platform strategy, like Amazon is doing with Alexa on its Fire Tablets, and more expensive productivity tools closer to true computing and legitimate notebook replacement devices that should manage to keep average prices up,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director, Tablets at IDC.

IDC on tablet market

Despite Apple’s marketing push for the iPad Pro, the iPad Air and Mini lines have been the models with mass appeal, accounting for more than two-thirds of its shipments this quarter. Though Apple’s tablet shipments declined 6.2 percent, total iPad-related revenues were flat for the quarter, thanks to the iPad Pro offering.

The negative press from the Note 7 did not bleed over into Samsung’s tablet business. Overreliance on the declining slate market led to a decline of 19.3 percent compared to 3Q15. Samsung’s attempt to enter the detachable market with its TabPro S at the beginning of 2016 seems to have taken a backseat as its price and positioning remain uncompetitive.

The Amazon Prime Day sale in early July led to a huge surge in shipments of its Fire tablets. The low-priced device was offered at a 30 percent discount then, and continued to remain popular throughout the rest of the quarter.

The new Fire HD 8 released in early October will likely perform well in the holiday quarter as it follows Amazon’s strategy of selling low-cost tablets as a gateway and companion to its ecosystem. Amazon’s unprecedented growth is partially attributed to the fact that IDC did not include the 6-inch tablets offered by Amazon in 3Q15.

Lenovo continued to maintain its stronghold in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) as well as Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Though the company has many aspirational products across all its entire consumer electronics portfolio, none were enough to raise the company’s profile in the tablet market, resulting in a 10.8 percent decline this quarter.

Huawei’s strong presence in the adjacent smartphone market and overall brand recognition has cascaded into the tablet market. The vendor offers a very strong value proposition as many of its tablets (over two-thirds) come integrated with cellular connectivity while maintaining a similar price to rivals who only offer WiFi-enabled devices.

Strategy Analytics on tablet market

Preliminary analysis of vendor performance in Q3 2016 has shown that Samsung, Asus, and the White Box community of vendors continue to lose ground to newer players in the market, while Apple stabilizes its iPad business.

Meanwhile, Lenovo has bounced back and forth between positive and negative growth in 2016 as it faces fierce competition in Asia from its rival, Huawei. Amazon has achieved strong sales of its $49 7-inch Fire Tablet, reaching a range of consumers looking for an entertainment tablet with key content tie-ins to the growing Amazon ecosystem.

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