. Updated February 06, 2017.
The tablet market woes continue as growth in detachable tablets shipment declined in 4Q 2016, says IDC. Global vendors shipped 52.9 million tablets in the fourth quarter of 2016, indicating a decline of 20.1% from the same quarter one year ago. Similarly, tablet shipments of 174.8 million units for the full year of 2016 were down 15.6% compared to 2015, marking the second straight year of declining shipments.
This is according to a report from the International Data Corporation Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, which reveals the fourth quarter of 2016 (4Q16) marked the ninth consecutive quarter that tablet shipments have declined.
Consumer spending during the holiday quarter of 2016 was clearly not aimed at consuming tablets as the market continued its spiraling decline, adds the report.
"The sentiment around the tablet market continues to grow stale despite a lot of talk about vendors pivoting their product portfolios toward the detachable segment," says Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "Typical tablets without a dedicated keyboard, which IDC refers to as slate tablets, are continuing to lose relevancy across all regions and, as a result, we see the decline happening globally. We do see future growth in some emerging markets like the Middle East and Africa as well as Central and Eastern Europe with the sole catalysts being simplicity and low cost. Unfortunately for the industry these are the devices that don't equate to large revenues."
IDC notes vendors that have historically led the notebook PC market are also talking about expanding their product portfolios to include more detachable tablets, although currently there is more talk than action. As a result, Apple and Microsoft are dominating the detachable tablet segment. IDC forecasts the second half of 2017 will bring a wide range of new detachable devices from the notebook PC original equipment manufacturers as well as those playing primarily in the smartphone space.
Yet even detachable tablets struggled to maintain momentum in the fourth quarter as flagship products from key players like Microsoft and Apple started to show signs of age, adds the report. "The market continues to warm up to two-in-one devices, but we're now getting to a point where the price and performance disparity between detachables and convertibles has started to narrow, and this added competition led to a dampening in the growth of detachable tablets," says Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.
Global market research firm TrendForce estimated that global tablet shipments for 2016 totalled around 154.5 million units, translating to an annual decline of 8.3%. Looking ahead to 2017, branded tablet vendors will adjust their product strategies and generate demand by releasing low-price devices. Hence, global shipments for 2017 are forecast to fall by just 5.3% annually to about 146.4 million units, says TrendForce.
Anita Wang, notebook analyst for TrendForce, says the saturation of the tablet market, the long life cycles of tablets themselves and the abundance of substitute devices are major factors that contributed to the large shipment decline.
IDC says Apple's tablet shipment declined 18.8% in 4Q16 indicating the technology company is not immune to overall market challenges. Samsung remained the number two tablet vendor in the holiday season capturing 15.1% market share with 8 million shipments, down 11.4% from the holiday quarter in 2015. Amazon's Fire tablets continued their hot streak, earning the company third place overall in 4Q16, says the IDC report.