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Apple winning the detachable race

The transition towards detachable tablets is in full swing, if new figures from IDC are anything to go by, with Apple coming out on top as the clear winner above Microsoft and other PC vendors.

According to the analyst firm, shipments for detachable tablets reached an all time high in 2015, with 8.1 million devices shipped. 
IDC says pure slate tablets experienced their greatest annual decline to date during the fourth quarter, despite the holiday season. Shipments were down -13.7% year over year, with 65.9 million units shipped, the company says. 

Total shipments for 2015 were 206.8 million, down -10.1% from 230.1 million in the prior year. 

"This quarter was unique as we had new detachables in the market from all three of the major platform players," explains Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. 

"Despite lukewarm reviews, the iPad Pro was the clear winner this season as it was the top selling detachable, surpassing notable entries from Microsoft and other PC vendors,” Ubrani says. 

Ubrani says it is important to note that the transition towards detachable tablets has presented positive opportunities for both Apple and Microsoft. 

“However, Google's recent foray into this space has been rather lackluster as the Android platform will require a lot more refinement to achieve any measurable success,” he says.

Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director, Tablets at IDC, says perhaps the most interesting trend to note is that prices on slate tablets have not yet hit rock bottom. Amazon’s $50 (or $42 for bulk shoppers) tablet was the holiday season's surprise hit, garnering the number 3 rank among the worldwide top 5. 

Rival vendors like Huawei and Lenovo also continued to focus on the low end while also expanding outside their home country China.

"One of the biggest reasons why detachables are growing so fast is because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements," Bouchard explains. "We believe Apple sold just over two million iPad Pros while Microsoft sold around 1.6 million Surface devices, a majority of which were Surface Pro and not the more affordable Surface 3. 
“With these results, it's clear that price is not the most important feature considered when acquiring a detachable – performance is."

Tablet Vendor Highlights
Apple's reign as market leader continued in 4Q15 though the company faced a -24.8% year-over-year decline. With the successful launch of the iPad Pro, the company was able to curb the decline in iPad revenues as its model mix shifted towards higher priced iPads.

Samsung managed to keep its second position in the market though it did decline by -18.1% compared to last year. Samsung is the vendor with the deepest tablet portfolio and manages to reach multiple price points and screen sizes, a position that will facilitate the transition to detachables in 2016.

Amazon's latest Kindle iteration piqued everyone's interest with its low price point, allowing Amazon's annual growth to reach 175.7%, the highest amongst the top 5. Amazon's success in the tablet market has thus far been purely based on price. While this bodes well during the holiday season, it's unlikely the Kindle's success will continue in the remainder of the year.

Lenovo maintained its market share in the last quarter of 2015, shipping 3.2 million units for a -13.5% decline over the same period last year. However, the Yoga, MIIX, and Thinkpad brands' combined traditional PC savoir faire should help Lenovo regain market share in 2016.

Huawei's focus remains on cellular-connected tablets and international expansion. The company has positioned itself well in the adjacent smartphone market and its popularity is likely to bleed over into the tablet market.

Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, Fourth Quarter 2015 

(Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)

Vendor

4Q15 Unit Shipments

4Q15 Market Share

4Q14 Unit Shipments

4Q14 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Growth

1. Apple

16.1

24.5%

21.4

28.1%

-24.8%

2. Samsung

9.0

13.7%

11.0

14.4%

-18.1%

3. Amazon.com

5.2

7.9%

1.9

2.5%

175.7%

4. Lenovo

3.2

4.8%

3.7

4.8%

-13.5%

5. Huawei

2.2

3.4%

1.0

1.3%

124.6%

Others

30.2

45.8%

37.4

49.0%

-19.2%

Total

65.9

100.0%

76.4

100.0%

-13.7%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, February 1, 2016

 

Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, 2015 

(Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)

Vendor

2015 Unit Shipments

2015 Market Share

2014 Unit Shipments

2014 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Growth

1. Apple

49.6

24.0%

63.4

27.6%

-21.8%

2. Samsung

33.4

16.2%

39.8

17.3%

-16.1%

3. Lenovo

11.2

5.4%

11.2

4.9%

0.4%

4. ASUS

7.1

3.4%

11.8

5.1%

-39.9%

5. Huawei

6.5

3.1%

3.0

1.3%

116.6%

Others

99.1

47.9%

100.9

43.8%

-1.8%

Total

206.8

100.0%

230.1

100.0%

-10.1%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, February 1, 2016



 

 

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