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).
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
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.