Tablets continue to fall out of favor

Their limitations are finally dawning on people

Tablets continue to fall out of favor
Credit: Thinkstock

If you think PC sales are in the toilet, you should look at what's happening in the tablet world. For the second quarter in a row, sales are down by double digits as consumers and businesses alike seek something more functional.

Tablets have a bunch of things going against them. Primarily, the problem is they are a consumption device, not a creation device, and people want something more powerful. In addition, phablets and large smartphones have eaten into the market, there are no compelling reasons to upgrade because new generations are only a little better than the old, and the chief advocate for tablets, Steve Jobs, is no longer among us.

The result, according to IDC, is a 12.3 percent decline in sales year over year for the second quarter of 2016. That comes on the heels of a 14.7 percent decline in Q1. IDC said this is due to vendors restructuring their product lines and customers delaying purchases as the market shifts focus towards productivity-oriented devices such as detachables.

"The market has spoken as consumers and enterprises seek more productive form factors and operating systems—it’s the reason we're seeing continued growth in detachables," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers in a statement. "At present, it's difficult for Android to compete with iOS or Windows detachable products. However, the next 12 to 18 months will be very interesting as Google launches the next version of Android with better multitasking support and as they begin to bring together their two operating systems."

How the tablet makers stack up

Android is the dominant OS, with 65 percent market share. iOS was second with 26 percent of the market, while Windows had 9 percent.

However, thanks to the splintered nature of the Android market, Apple was the unit leader. It sold 10 million units in the quarter, compared to 11 million units in Q2 2015. Considering that the company had a year-over-year decline of 18.8 percent in Q1 2016, Apple did pretty darn well.

Samsung came in second place, but that was only with 6 million units, a sizable drop of 24.5 percent year over year. IDC noted that the Galaxy Tab View is not included in the results, as it is not included in the firm's tablet taxonomy. IDC expects the company to make some kind of move because at this point, it "arguably leaves the detachable market untouched."

Lenovo shipped 2.5 million units for third place, even with its sales in Q2 2015. Much of it came through the low-cost Lenovo Tab 2, Tab 3 and the Yoga Tab 3 Pro.

Huawei was fourth, with 2.2 million units sold, mostly due to its slates performing relatively well in the Asia/Pacific and MEA regions. Its Matebook is off to a bad start, which IDC called "half-hearted." Still, 2.2 million units is better than the 1.3 million it sold in Q2 2015.

The growth story belongs to Amazon, with aggressive pricing and the growing popularity of Amazon Prime Day Sale. It sold 1.6 million tablets in Q2 2016, much better than the 500,000 sold in the 2015 period, although part of that is because IDC did not include the 6-in. Fire tablets offered by Amazon in Q2 2015.

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