The tablet market declined 5.5% in the third quarter annually, according to figures from analyst house IDC, with 40m units shipped globally. The analyst said growing demand for smartphones, combined with the lengthening replacement cycle of tablets and "strengthening position" of traditional PCs, left the tablet market in an "awkward middle ground" that it has not been able to escape. This marked the twelfth consecutive quarter of annual decline.
"There's a penchant for low-cost slates and this holds true even for premium vendors like Apple," said Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at IDC. "However, many of these low-cost slates are simply long-awaited replacements for consumers as first-time buyers are becoming harder to find, and the overall installed base for these devices declines further in the coming years."
Meanwhile, growth in the detachable tablet market has been slower than expected, said IDC, as Apple and Microsoft are essentially the only two vendors supplying the category. The latest version of iOS has helped make iPads a "more serious" PC competitor than ever before, the analyst said, but the need for legacy apps (especially in the commercial segment) and "strong value offerings" from other PC and mobile vendors, has prevented iPads from becoming the primary computing device for the masses.
The top tablet vendors according to shipments are Apple (number one), Samsung and then Amazon, with Huawei and Lenovo tied in fourth place.