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Tablet market continues downward spiral in second quarter of 2017

The tablet market continued its decline in the second quarter of 2017 (2Q17).

Data from IDC found that despite notable product launches like the new and lower priced iPad and products from other top-tier vendors, shipments around the world dropped 3.4 percent year over in 2Q17, coming in at 37.9 million.

Despite once being touted as ‘the saviour of the market', detachable tablets also declined in the second quarter as consumers waited in anticipation of product refreshes from high-profile vendors like Apple and Microsoft.

However, given the aforementioned anticipation of new product launches towards the end of the second quarter, detachable market is expected to maintain a stronger position in the second half of the year.

Senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, Jitesh Ubrani says there's been a resetting of expectations for detachables as competing convertible notebooks offered a convincing and familiar computing experience for many.

"To date, the 2-in-1 market was bifurcated as Apple and Microsoft led with detachables while the PC vendors led with convertibles,” says Ubrani.

“Though that is slowly changing as smartphone vendors and traditional PC vendors begin to offer compelling alternatives, the pace has been rather slow as Surface and iPad Pro still dominate shelf space and mindshare."

Despite the turmoil within the market, three of the top five vendors actually managed to increase their shares of the market and grow on an annual basis with the price being the largest driving factor.

However, IDC asserts these gains may be short-lived as the replacement cycle of tablets is still long (closer to traditional PCs rather than smartphones) and first-time buyers have become a rare commodity.

Because of the downward pressure on pricing from the big name brands, the smaller tablet vendors and brands have been starting to turn their attention away from tablets and IDC expects this trend to continue.

Research director, Devices - Displays at IDC, Linn Huang says the tablet market has essentially become a race to see if the burgeoning detachables category can grow fast enough to offset the long-term erosion of the slate market.

"From that lens, the second quarter was a slight righting of the ship and there is still much to be hopeful about in the back half of 2017,” says Huang.

“New product launches from Microsoft and Apple are generally accompanied by subsequent quarters of inflated shipments, the reintroduction of Windows to the ARM platform could help remedy the aforementioned hollowing of the middle of the market, and we expect a proliferation of Chrome OS-based detachables in time for the holidays."

The highlights of the top five vendors include:

  • Apple – The launch of two new iPads at a low price point finally caused a turnaround Apple's iPad business, positioning itself quite well during the quarter.
  • Samsung – Made a gain in their share simply by sustaining flat growth in this declining market. Samsung continues to be strong in offering multiple detachable tablets.
  • Huawei – Investments in brand marketing in Europe and Asia has continued to work well as the company finds itself in the top five for both tablets and smartphones.
  • – Its aggressive pricing strategy has worked well due to its ever-growing ecosystem, in addition to an update of its lineup and expansion of Alexa to the UK.
  • Lenovo – Despite the annual decline, the company managed to increase its share of detachable tablets within its product portfolio.
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