Global tablet market in decline for fourth straight quarter

IDC predicts market transition will lead to rise of detachable devices

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Global tablet market in decline for fourth straight quarter The worldwide tablet market saw shipments decline by 12.6% year over year
By  Tom Paye Published  November 3, 2015

The worldwide tablet market saw shipments decline by 12.6% year over year during the third quarter of 2015, according to the latest research from IDC.

The research house said that this was the fourth straight quarter that the tablet market had recorded lower shipments. IDC added that, despite signs of slight seasonal improvements, the numbers highlighted the challenges that the market is facing.

Indeed, at the close of 2014, IDC estimated the installed base of tablets to be 581.9m globally, up 36% from 2013 but slowing quickly. With mature markets like North America, Western Europe, and Asia/Pacific well past 100m active tablets per region, the opportunities for growth are getting fewer, IDC said.

"We continue to get feedback that tablet users are holding onto devices upwards of four years," said Ryan Reith, program director for IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.

"We believe the traditional slate tablet has a place in the personal computing world. However, as the smartphone installed base continues to grow and the devices get bigger and more capable, the need for smaller form factor slate tablets becomes less clear. With shipment volumes slowing over four consecutive quarters, the market appears to be in transition."

According to IDC, that transition is causing vendors to explore new form factors, with detachable tablets becoming the go-to choice for many. And while detachable tablets represent just a single-digit percentage of the market today, IDC said that these devices would see their share increase dramatically over the next 18 months.

However, IDC warned that this shift would present new challenges. In particular, the mix of traditional PC OEMs that are evolving their portfolios to include detachables will face pressure from the traditional smartphone OEMs, many of which have become accustomed to delivering extremely low-cost products.

"The first generation of detachable tablets failed to gain much traction, as they represented a series of compromises in terms of both operating system and hardware that few consumers or businesses were willing to accept," said Tom Mainelli, program vice president, Devices & Displays at IDC.

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