Global tablet market shipments fell 9% as market leaders Apple and Samsung experienced double digit declines but smaller vendors are capitalizing more effectively on growth segments, according to the new “Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share: Q4 2016” report from Strategy Analytics’ Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies (TTS) service.
Price remains a key sticking point for consumers to adopt powerful new 2-in-1 Tablet devices, such as the iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4, leaving more room for cheaper alternatives from smaller vendors like Lenovo.
“Amazon has broken out of its unique seasonal patterns with the majority of its tablet sales occurring in Q4 to a more balanced approach all throughout the year, which speaks to the success of its low-cost, feature-rich Fire 7,” said Peter King, Service Director, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies.
“While Amazon’s play is to bring more users into its ecosystem for incremental revenue, we believe other technology companies can mimic this success as the tablet still holds strong entertainment value.”
Eric Smith, Senior Analyst, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies service added, “2-in-1 Tablets are a hot market segment but price remains a key factor in consumer behaviors around PC and Tablet replacement devices, which is evident in lower shipments of iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4 devices in the quarter.
Apple cut prices on its iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 models but introduced no new iPad Pro models or pricing during the quarter, leading to 4% ASP decline year-on-year.
Microsoft has not released a major refresh of its Surface Pro or Surface Book devices in over a year, which has given its OEM partners and other mobile-first companies a chance to catch up with high-performing, lower cost Surface clones.”
Tablet Market Results by Vendor
The tablet business at Apple and Samsung has improved during 2016, but growth is still in negative territory while White Box vendors are leaving the tablet market for more profitable, high-growth product segments, shifting attention to the wearables, connected audio, drones, and VR markets.
Meanwhile, Lenovo has bounced back and forth between positive and negative growth in 2016, ending the year with growth even as its Asian archrival Huawei also experienced high growth in Q4 2016.
Finally, Amazon has achieved strong sales of its $49 7-inch Fire Tablet and its newer new $89 8″ Fire HD Tablet (with the inclusion of its popular Alexa digital assistant software), reaching a broad range of consumers looking for an entertainment tablet with key content tie-ins to the growing Amazon ecosystem.
Tablet Market Dynamics by Operating System
Apple iOS shipments (sell-in) came in below projections at 13.1 million iPads in Q4 2016 leaving it with a worldwide market share of 21% of the Tablet market. Reversing a 5-quarter trend, ASPs fell 4% year-on-year to $423 as consumers flocked to lower-priced slate models and away from higher priced iPad Pro models.
Android-branded vendors shipped 40.3 million units among them worldwide in Q4 2016, down 10% from 44.9 million a year earlier and up 35% sequentially on high seasonality. Market share fell 2 percentage points year-on-year to 63% as high growth of Windows tablet shipments squeeze Android tablets.
Windows shipments grew 19% year-on-year at 10.1 million units in Q4 2016, from 8.5 million in Q4 2015, reaching 16% market share.