IDC: Tablet Decline Slows in Q2 2017

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According to IDC, the tablet market continued to slide downwards in Q2 2017-- global shipments total 37.9 million, a -3.4% Y-o-Y decline, despite notable product launches such as the new, lower priced iPad.

Not even detachable tablets could save the quarter, as customers prefer to wait for upcoming product refreshes from the high-profile likes of Apple and Microsoft. That said, new product launches towards the end of Q2 should leave detachables in a stronger position on H2 2017.

IDC Q2 2017 tablets

"There's been a resetting of expectations for detachables as competing convertible notebooks offered a convincing and familiar computing experience for many," the analyst remarks. "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."

The quarter still has three of the top five vendors increase share and grow on a Y-o-Y, with price being the biggest driving factor. However such gains may be temporary-- after all the tablet replacement cycle remains long (closer to traditional PCs than smartphones) and first-time buyers are a "rare commodity." With downward pressure on pricing from big vendors, "whitebox" tablet vendors and smaller vendors are turning away from tablets, and IDC expects this trend to continue.

In the vendor rankings, Apple remains in the lead with the introduction of two new iPads. A (relatively) lower price point encouraged some consumers to upgrade their aging devices, and such demand managed to turnaround the iPad business. The company also continues to transition towards detachables with the launch of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and an upcoming iOS update.

Samsung also manages to gain share-- if simply by sustaining flat growth in a declining market. The company is the 3rd major detachables contender after Apple and Microsoft, and offers multiple detachable tablets running on either Windows or Android. On a global basis Samsung slates have "significant" presents, and this portion of the business continues to struggle.

Third-placing Huawei gets to the global top 5 in both tablets and smartphones, thanks to investment in brand marketing in Europe and Asia, as well as plenty of low-cost and cellular-enabled devices. Amazon follows with its aggressive pricing strategy and updated tablet lineup, while Lenovo comes fifth with a slow increase in the share of detachable tablets within its product range.

Go IDC WW Quarterly Tablet Tracker August 2017