Worldwide Tablet Shipment Down 20% In Q3 As Big-Screen Smartphones Cannibalize

The report notes that the worldwide tablet market recorded lower shipments for the fourth straight quarter with 48.7 million units shipped in the third quarter of 2015 (3Q15). "The Greater China region saw the steepest annual decline in tablet shipments, falling around 34 per cent year-on-year".

The second, and likely more important reason, is that with smartphones becoming bigger and bigger, most consumers are purchasing a single device - a smartphone that's probably not that much smaller than its tablet counterparts. The analysts think that the next big thing is going to be "detachable" computers - basic laptops that come with a detachable screen that can be used as a tablet, such as Microsoft's new Surface Book or Google's Pixel C. "We sold 9.9 million compared to 12.3 million in the year-ago quarter. iPad sell-through was 10.4 million as we reduced channel inventory by about 500,000 units", said Luca Maestri, Apple's CFO. We believe this has happened because tablets are no longer considered as "trendy" as they were before.

The report said the days of showcasing Apple iPad as the ultimate tablet is coming to an end. Samsung also suffered shipment decline with 7.9 million units shipped during the quarter.

South Korea-based Samsung was the No. 2 tablet vendor in Q3 with 16.5% market share. With mature markets like North America, Western Europe, and Asia-Pacific well past 100 million active tablets per region, the opportunities for growth are getting fewer, the research firm said. "We continue to get feedback that tablet users are holding onto devices upwards of four years", said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement. Apple led the market in mainland China with shipments of 1.8 million units, a decline of 13 per cent from the previous quarter.

The tablet shipment of Lenovo was 3.1 percent for 5.5 percent share. However, the impending launch of the iPad Pro may serve as a silver lining as the market shifts towards productivity-enabling devices.

IDC says Asus, which had 4.0% market share in Q3, has struggled to maintain momentum in the detachable market as its refresh earlier this year of its Transformer lineup hasn't been as successful and, more importantly, other vendors have been able to offer similar devices at comparable price points.

Huawei has addressed the growing trend of tablets for voice calling by focusing on cellular-enabled tablets. Mr. Tom Mainelli, Program Vice President, Devices & Displays at IDC, chipped in with his thoughts regarding the issue, sounding cautiously optimistic about the prospects of the tablet sector over the next few quarters.