The “downward spiral” of tablets continued in Q2, despite a recovery in market leader Apple’s iPad business, with pressure at the high end leading to a “resetting of expectations”, according to research house IDC.
Detachable devices, which the company said were “once touted as the saviour of the market”, declined as customers waited for product refreshes from players including Apple and Microsoft. However, this is likely to mean a stronger second half of the year for the high-end tablets.
“To date, the 2-in-1 market was bifurcated as Apple and Microsoft led with detachables while the PC vendors led with convertibles. 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,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC.”
There were positives during the quarter: three of the top five vendors managed to grow on an annual basis, “with price being the largest driving factor”. These gains may be short-lived, IDC warned, as the replacement cycle of tablets is still long (closer to PCs than smartphones) and first-time buyers are “a rare commodity”.
With downward pricing pressure from the big names, “whitebox” vendors and smaller brands are starting to turn away from the segment.
As a whole, the market shrank 3.4 per cent year-on-year to 37.9 million units in Q2 2017.
Market leader Apple “positioned itself quite well” during the quarter (see chart, below), consolidating its line-up and introducing two new iPads. A new low price point pushed some owners toward an upgrade.
Samsung gained market share by maintaining shipments in the shrinking market, and “appears to be the third major contender in detachables, after Apple and Microsoft”, offering multiple devices and a choice of Android or Windows.
Huawei’s investment in brand marketing in Europe and Asia means the company landed itself in the top five for tablets as well as smartphones. IDC said: “with plenty of low-cost and cellular-enabled options, Huawei has been able to slowly steal share from rivals like Lenovo”.