One of the key differences between cellular-enabled tablets and other tablets is the entry of wireless carriers to the fray. "Cellular-enabled tablets are outgrowing the rest of the market, providing an additional revenue stream for OEMs and mobile operators. In addition to driving higher usage than Wi-Fi-only tablets, cellular-enabled tablets also help position the segment as true mobile solutions rather than stay-at-home devices." said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets for International Data Corporation (IDC).
Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the second consecutive quarter in the first quarter of 2015 (1Q15). Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices fell to 47.1 million in 1Q15, a -5.9% decline from the same quarter a year ago, according to IDC.
Apple still leads the overall market despite five consecutive quarters of negative annual shipment growth, IDC said. Apple shipped 12.6 million iPads in the first quarter, capturing 26.8% of the market in volume and declining -22.9% when compared to 1Q14. Samsung (19.1% share) maintained its second place in the market despite a -16.5% decline in shipments compared to the same period last year. Lenovo (5.3% share), Asus (3.8 %) and LG (3.1%) rounded out the top 5 positions. LG's year-over-year growth was notable as it continues to benefit from US carriers' strategy to bundle connected tablets with existing customers.
Top Five Tablet Vendors
Shipments Market Share Growth Q1 2015
(Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)
Apple 12.6 26.8 % -22.9 %
Samsung 9.0 19.1 % -16.5 %
Lenovo 2.5 5.3 % 23.0 %
ASUS 1.8 3.8 % -30.6 %
LG Electronics 1.4 3.1 % 1423.7 %
Others 19.7 41.8 % 8.6 %
Total 47.1 100.0 % -5.9 %
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, April 30, 2015
"Although the tablet market is in decline, 2-in-1's are certainly a bright spot," said IDC’s Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. "While 2-in-1, or detachables, still account for a small portion of the overall market, growth in this space has been stunning as vendors like Asus, Acer, and E-FUN have been able to offer products at a fantastic value; and vendors like Microsoft have been able to drive growth at the high end with devices like the Surface Pro 3."
As a result of the recent market contraction, IDC believes tablet OEM's should continue to focus on potential growth areas like the aforementioned cellular-enabled tablets and 2-in-1 devices. The commercial segment remains an area to watch for both tablets and 2-in-1's. However, as of now, commercial uptake has been relatively slow as IT buyers continue to evaluate their mobile strategies.
Tablet Vendor Highlights
Apple's iPads continue to suffer from the success of the new iPhone and to a lesser extent of the Mac product line. IDC expects Apple to record negative growth until the iPad portfolio is significantly refreshed, either with the expected increase in screen sizes or by introducing a dedicated version of iOS for its tablet lineup.
Samsung managed to maintain its position in the market despite a significant decline in shipment volumes. The market shift to connected tablets will likely benefit the Korean vendor as they can and should leverage their mobile expertise and carrier relationships.
Lenovo is one of the few tablet vendors that continues to grow in a declining market. The company's wide range of products – including plenty of low-cost offerings – are proving popular in a growing number of regions and it is a brand that performs well in the adjacent PC and smartphone markets.
Asus' new Transformer lineup launched in mid-February, leading to less-than-expected growth in the first quarter. However the new "Chi" devices have been well received in developed markets. In emerging markets, Asus' Fonepad 7 continues to gain traction as the demand for voice capabilities grows in emerging regions.
It wasn't too long ago that LG Electronics exited the tablet market due to the poor performance of its original Optimus Pad. However, since returning to the tablet business in late 2013, LG has been able to leverage its relationship with local telcos, garnering an impressive 10% growth over the fourth quarter in a market that declined -38% quarter over quarter and capturing a spot in the worldwide Top 5.