Sales of tablets are still shrinking -- except the ones that are most like PCs, says IDC

Tablets may have ushered in the post-PC age, but their sales are down

Tablets may have ushered in the post-PC age, but the only ones posting a growth in sales are detachables -- the ones that are most like PCs.

At 206.8 million, tablet shipments last year were 10.1 percent down on 2014. The decline in the fourth quarter -- which, with the holiday season, accounted for almost a third of the year's sales -- was even more marked, down 13.7 percent on a year earlier, according to market researcher IDC.

It was, though, a record quarter for detachable tablets, a category in which IDC includes Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface and Surface Pro, with shipments in this category reaching an all-time high of 8.1 million devices, more than double a year earlier.

For IDC tablet research director Jean Philippe Bouchard, "One of the biggest reasons why detachables are growing so fast is because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements."

Unfortunately for Microsoft, replacing a PC can also mean replacing Windows. According to IDC the biggest-selling detachable in the fourth quarter was the iPad Pro: it estimates Apple sold just over 2 million of them. The iPad Pro qualifies as a detachable because Apple sells a clip-on keyboard with folding kickstand as a $169 add-on. For that tablet's smaller siblings, Apple left the market to third-party suppliers.

Microsoft managed to sell about 1.6 million Surface devices, all told, of which IDC believes a majority were the more expensive Surface Pro.

With the iPad Pro starting at $799 -- and up to $1079 for a fully loaded model -- IDC sees performance as a bigger factor than price for buyers of detachables.

Some, though, are happy with a tiny tablet that won't do much beyond play video and offer an okay web-browsing experience. Amazon.com's $50 Fire, a 7-inch tablet with 8GB of memory, was aimed straight at that market during the holiday season.

The budget-priced Fire put Amazon in third place in IDC's vendor ranking for the fourth quarter, with a market share of 7.9 percent -- still a fair way behind Apple (24.5 percent) and Samsung Electronics (13.7 percent). Amazon is catching up fast, though: a year earlier its share was just 2.5 percent.

Fourth-placed Lenovo, also focused on the low end of the market, saw its share remained unchanged from a year earlier, at 4.8 percent. IDC expects the company's share to rise in 2016 as it exploits its ThinkPad, Miix and Yoga brands, which it has used for laptops and detachable tablets.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?