Tablet sales decline for first time, Amazon hit hard


There have been mumblings for months that tablet sales worldwide are slowing down, even though there’s still growth especially among budget devices typically running Android.


Tablet sales speed bump

Worldwide, tablet sales increased by 4.4% this year and reached 229.6 million units, but Q4 last year (in other words, October to December) saw the first ever decline year-on-year of 3.2%, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

Tablet Sales 2014

It was no surprise that Apple and Samsung raked in the most sales, with 21.4 million and 11 million units each. Apple’s iPad dominates with just under 30% of the market, but its sales decline this time around by nearly 18%.

Most of the top tablet manufacturers also experienced declines in the same period, although Lenovo was the only company not to succumb to the downwards trend, with a 9.1% increase mainly thanks to its strong portfolio in Asia and products that cover both Android and Windows operating systems.

Amazon hit hard

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Tablet

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX.

While the decline hardly comes as a surprise to most industry pundits, Amazon took a huge hit and sold nearly 70% fewer tablets compared with the year before, even though it had introduced the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. Perhaps the public considered that Amazon’s new products didn’t match the functionality and performance of competitors. Amazon’s tablets are cheaper than the iPad, but fall into the same price category as most Android tablets.

Amazon did not however include sales in its figures of Amazon’s 6-inch budget tablet (as it doesn’t fit their definition of “tablet”) but if they had done, the numbers wouldn’t have been quite so bad. The fall in tablet sales has been widely blamed on the meteoric rise of “phablet” style smartphones with extremely large screens, as surveys have found that people who own one of these gigantic devices reach for their tablet less and less.

Eat your own lunch

As far as Apple is concerned, the larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus probably cannibalised some sales from the iPad – if your lunch is going to be eaten, you might as well eat it yourself, so to speak. Furthermore, even though the iPad Air 2 was extremely well received, tablet buying cycles are typically longer for tablets than smartphones, as consumers don’t upgrade as often as they do a phone. Another nail in the coffin was the fact that the iPad Mini 3 (the second generation with a “Retina” display) received barely a spec bump when it was refreshed in October, which probably convinced many iPad Mini buyers to hold off.

Tablets are a sizeable market and an important product for electronics companies, but as people decide they want larger phones and laptops become ever thinner, lighter and more mobile, it seems that consumers need a bit more convincing if they’re to shell out their hard-earned cash for a tablet.




  1. Andy Hughes on

    Interesting article. I think it may be that a lot of the tablets from even as far back as 2013 are perfectly adequate for most peoples needs. I believe that 2013/14 saw the boom for these devices as they were the ideal Christmas and birthday presents for all the family (my mum included). She and most other mums are probably not in any kind of rush to update their hardware which works fine. I got a Nexus 7 2014 version that I cant see myself parting with for a good couple of years from now or longer.

  2. Amazon’s problem is that there are now other tablets – from decent manufacturers, at similar price-points to the Kindle Fires, and they’re not as tied to Amazon (I know you can sideload stuff – but the average user isn’t likely to do that).

    Apple’s problem is that there are now lots of tablets, including some from fairly big-name manufacturers, that undercut them.

    I will admit, I got myself a Lenovo Miix 8 recently, so I’m one of those people that’s boosted Lenovo’s numbers (one of the Windows 8.1 tablets – proper Windows, not Windows RT)

    So far I’m pretty happy with it as I have Steam installed, so although it’s not fast, it can play quite a few games happily enough (the ones that don’t need a keyboard…). Being able to play Civ5 on the underground is making me sometimes wish I had a longer commute…