The worldwide tablet market declined 8.6 per cent during the third quarter of 2018, as demand for slate and detachable devices slumped.
According to preliminary data from IDC, global shipments fell to 36.4 million during the quarter, with slate tablets accounting for the majority of the market with 31.6 million units, down 7.9 per cent from the previous year.
Detachable tablets also declined, down 13.1 per cent from the previous year, to account for 4.8 million unit shipments.
“The detachable market has failed to see growth in 2018, a worrying trend that has plagued the category off and on since the end of 2016," said Lauren Guenveur, senior research analyst at IDC.
“In October we finally saw the highly anticipated refreshes of Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface Pro, as well as new products by Samsung and Google, which lead us to believe that the last quarter of the year will turn the detachable category around, at least for the time being.”
As explained by Guenveur, “Increasingly sparse” are new products by the top-tier PC OEMs, with vendors instead remaining more focused on expanding convertible portfolio offerings.
For Guenveur, this is a move that will ultimately affect the overall trajectory of the detachable market going forward.
“The tablet market is more like the traditional PC market than ever before," added Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC.
“Not only do these markets move in sync with each other, but the decreasing margins and overall decline, particularly in slate tablets, has led to the top five companies capturing a larger share as many small vendors have exited the space or simply treat the tablet market with a much lower priority.
“Even among the top five, it is essentially Apple and to a lesser extent Samsung that continue to invest heavily in product innovation and marketing. This has helped the two companies to set themselves apart from the rest.”
From a vendor perspective, Apple continued to lead the tablet market with nearly double the shipments of its nearest competitor.
The “refreshed” $329 iPad with Pencil support that launched in late March continued to drive volume although it was unable to maintain the same momentum from the third quarter of 2017 as that was the first time in a while that Apple had released a lower cost iPad.
“iPad Pro saw year-on-year declines in anticipation of a refresh at the beginning of the fourth quarter, which bodes well for Apple through the end of the year,” Guenveur added.
Meanwhile, Samsung maintained its position as the second leading tablet manufacturer despite a year-on-year decline.
“Its detachable portfolio grew modestly, however that growth was outweighed by continued declines in the slate category,” Guenveur added. “Samsung continues to face pressure in its lower and mid-market segments as competitors offer slate tablets at a better value.”
Amazon.com rose in position to become the third largest tablet manufacturer in the third quarter.
“Strong sales from Prime Day propelled the company ahead of Huawei and Lenovo, a pattern we can expect will be repeated during the holiday quarter,” Guenveur said. “Despite Amazon's rise in position, the company saw a modest year-on-year shipment decline.”
According to IDC, Huawei was the only vendor among the top five to deliver year-over-year tablet shipments growth during the third quarter.
“Huawei continued its impressive growth trajectory in the quarter with strong year-on-year increases in Europe and Latin America,” Guenveur explained.
Lenovo rounded out the top five with 2.3 million units shipped in the third quarter, a decline of nearly 25 per cent compared to a year ago.
“The company has been heavily focused on expanding its reach in the traditional PC market and while it successfully regained the top position in that market, the company slipped into fifth place in the tablet market during the quarter,” Guenveur said.