Tablet Market Shrinks for the First Time Ever

The last quarter was the first time since the start of the tablet industry (after the arrival of the iPad in 2010) that shipments actually fell rather than rising.

That too by 3.2% to 76.1 million units from 78.6 million units in the same quarter last year, according to IDC. The overall figures for the year stood at 229.6 million, 4.4% over the previous 12 months.

All tablet manufacturers except Lenovo lost market share

As expected, all of the manufacturers at the top of the hierarchy suffered due to the shrinking of the market, with only Lenovo managing to increase its market share thanks to its stronghold in China, by 9.1%. Apple sits comfortably at the top with 21.4 percent of the market, with Samsung getting half of that.

Both of them experienced the shrinkage in sales by 17.8 and 18.4 percent respectively. ASUS and, in particular, Amazon also saw catastrophic sales declines by almost 25 and a stunning 70 percent respectively.

The reason blamed by IDC was the fact that the entire industry was dominated by just two major players: Apple and Samsung. The former now has a cheaper entry point but its main attraction are iPhones while the latter is too much into the mid to high-range market.

“The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year.

Although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn’t enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s struggles continued as low-cost vendors are quickly proving that mid- to high-priced Android tablets simply aren’t cut out for today’s tablet market.”

You can also argue about the rise of phablets. With even Apple now offering a larger iPhone, a lot of people are now considering larger smartphones as a viable alternative to tablets, esp. those which are around the 7″ mark.

Remember that Apple also updated the iPad Mini rather conservatively this year. However, only time will tell whether tablets will also get the PC treatment or not.