Published in Mobiles

Global tablet shipments fell by 40 million in Q1 2017

by on14 March 2017

A market share war between stylus tablets and 2-in-1 convertible PCs

It is no hidden secret that worldwide tablet shipments have progressively began a decline over the past three years, since the industry began experiencing year-over-year slumps to the present number of 39.6 million units in Q4 2016.

Once again, for the second time in a year, the overall tablet market is expected to drop to under 40 million units in the first quarter of 2017, with an expected shipment rate of 39.03 million units. While shipment forecasts are subject to variability depending on the research groups assembling the numbers, Statista expects a total of 136 million units to ship this year, down from the estimated 150 million in 2016. Other sources like Digitimes reckon the total number of shipments was closer to 183 million units last year, though it has tempered its forecast this year by stating that quarterly and yearly declines will both be less severe compared to those seen in the first quarter of 2016.


idc global tablet market 2016 chart

Source: IDC

According to reports from IDC, tablet sales are projected to continue declining all through the year, bringing their analysis on par with Statista’s projection. Most experts admit the reason is due to a growing demand for 2-in-1 Windows convertible PCs that offer the same ultra-thin profiles of slate tablets with more performance and more robust productivity. However, other argue that 2-in-1 devices offer no substantive tradeoffs over tablets with keyboard cases as vendors like Apple, Samsung and Google now offer high-performing ARM-based chips with RAM and storage capacities to match most midrange PC notebooks.

Native stylus tablets will take on 2-in-1 convertible Windows PCs

Industry watchers expect that in 2017, more native tablet manufacturers will steadily join the convertible 2-in-1 PC business, while standouts like Apple will continue to market the iPad Pro as a decent hybrid convertible alternative to the Microsoft Surface series. The situation once again appears to be one where Apple takes dominance in the native tablet market, using its very different marketing ploy to sell as many magnetically-latching pencils and keyboard cases as it possibly can to attract market share away from Microsoft and similar Windows-based products with styluses from HP, Samsung, Lenovo, Dell, ASUS and others.

Depending on how fast Apple can ramp up tablet shipments this quarter, the success of its 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models is expected to encourage native tablet manufacturers to make a stronger stand in the “hybrid tablet” market – or tablets that include detachable keyboard cases. Current competition in this space includes the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Note Pro 12.2 and TabPro S, Huawei MateBook, Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000, and Google Pixel C.

Apple, Samsung and Microsoft all introducing new products in Q1

The first quarter of a new year is traditionally a low season for consumer hardware sales, but this year the market can expect to see new product announcements from both US and Korea-based vendors including Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. The first product introduced last month was the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 during the Mobile World Congress, while Apple is expected to hold an announcement of its new trio of iPads sometime during mid-April to coincide with the launch of its spaceship-like HQ building in Cupertino. Lastly, Microsoft is expected to announce its fifth-generation Surface tablet sometime before the end of spring, which is any time before June 20th.

Last modified on 14 March 2017
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