Tablet market extends slide as consumer habits shift

Journalists test the Samsung Galaxy Book after its presentation on Feb 26, 2017 in Barcelona.
Journalists test the Samsung Galaxy Book after its presentation on Feb 26, 2017 in Barcelona.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The tablet craze from a few years ago showed more signs of fading this year (2017), with most major producers reporting sales declines, market surveys showed on Thursday (May 4).

IDC reported an 8.5 per cent drop in global tablet shipments to 36.2 million. This was the 10th straight quarterly decline for tablets, IDC said.

A separate survey by Strategy Analytics pegged the decline for the quarter at 10 per cent.

IDC analyst Ryan Reith said the sizzling growth in tablets from 2010 to 2013 following the launch of the first iPad is now history, and that many consumers are finding they can do without tablets, relying instead on smartphone or new slimmer laptop PCs.

"The rate at which the tablet market grew from 2010 to 2013 was unlike many other consumer-oriented device markets we've seen before," Reith said.

"However, it appears for many reasons consumers became less eager to refresh these devices, or in some instances purchase them at all. We continue to believe the leading driver for this was the increased dependency on smartphones, along with rather minimal technology and form factor progression."

IDC said Apple led the market with a 24.6 per cent share in first quarter despite a 13 per cent sales drop.

Samsung sales fell 1.1 per cent but retained the number two spot at 16.5 per cent.

China's Huawei was the only major vendor to show growth - reporting a 31.7 per cent jump, garnering a 7.4 per cent share, after introducing new "detachable" tablets powered by Microsoft Windows, IDC said.

IDC estimated that Amazon, which does not report detailed sales figures, sold 2.2 million tablets for a 6 per cent market share, a drop of 1.8 per cent.

Lenovo held the number five spot with a market share of 5.7 per cent for the Chinese electronics giant, according to IDC.

Strategy Analytics, which reported similar market shares, said the growth had evaporated for Microsoft and its Surface tablets after a number of strong quarters.

"Sales performance for Windows tablets has been fantastic over the last several years but the hero of this segment is missing in action," said Eric Smith of Strategy Analytics.

The Strategy Analytics survey found that sales of Windows tablets, which include Microsoft Surface devices, fell 2 per cent from a year ago to 6.3 million units, which gave the operating system a market share of 15 per cent.