Tablets continue to show their true colours as a failed experiment, as the market contracted once again, this time by 3.4 million units or a catastrophic 8.5% in Q1 2017.
Unlike last time it was not just Apple’s loss. The market leader with 24.6% market share, its sales are only down by 1.4 million units compared to Q1 2016, leaving another 2 million units unaccounted for.
It seems on this occasion that Android tablets carried the bulk of the decline, as the IDC reports that detachable tablets, which have most often been Windows tablets, are continuing to grow, even while the tablet market itself sees its 10th quarter of decline.
“As far as most are aware, the tablet market was created in 2010 with the launch of the original iPad, despite unsuccessful product attempts by other OEMs in the years leading up to this,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. “The rate at which the tablet market grew from 2010 to 2013 was unlike many other consumer-oriented device markets we’ve seen before. 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.”
Of course, Windows tablets are free from the major limitations of the iPad and Android tablets, and OEMs are increasingly turning to that OS to drive their detachable devices.
The IDC notes that both Samsung and Huawei were launching Windows detachables and Lenovo was also moving more of its PC products to detachables.
Even detachables, which end up being used most often with the removable keyboard attached, are under threat from convertibles such as the Lenovo Yoga series, with fixes keyboards that can be moved out of the way.
“A long-term threat to the overall PC market lies in how the market ultimately settles on the detachable versus convertible debate,” said Linn Huang, research director, Devices & Displays at IDC. “To date, detachable shipments have dwarfed those of convertibles, but the growth of the former has slowed a bit. In IDC’s 2017 U.S. Consumer PCD Survey, fielded over the previous two months, detachable owners held slightly more favourable attitudes towards their detachables than convertible owners did for their convertibles. However, owners of both were far more likely to recommend a convertible over a detachable.”
Most of the trends appear to favour PCs and the productivity benefits of Windows, and we hope that this will also translate into improved support for the Windows platform in particular by developers.