Motorola may be looking to re-enter the tablet space, but it looks like tablet makers may be competing for their slice of an ever-shrinking pie.

IDC reports that tablet shipments in the first quarter of 2017 were down 8.5 percent from the same period in 2016.

In terms of raw numbers, that still means more than 36 million tablets were shipped. But that’s more than 3 million fewer than the same period a year earlier.

Apple continues to be the top tablet makers, according to IDC, with nearly a quarter of the market share, and 8.9 million units shipped during the quarter. But Apple’s iPad shipments were down 13 percent when you look at the year-over-year numbers, and the company’s market share dropped from 25.9 percent to 24.6 percent.

In fact, only one of the top 5 tablet makers saw an increase in shipments: Huawei went from 2 million tablets shipped in Q1, 2016 to 2.7 million in Q1, 2017 for an increase of 31.7 percent. Everyone else saw declines.

So what’s going on? It’s tough to know for certain, but the market might be saturated: most people who want a tablet may already have one, and feel little need to upgrade every year. And plenty of people who don’t necessarily need a tablet might have one too. The market took off around the time the original iPad launched (it wasn’t the first tablet, but it was the first blockbuster hit tablet), and early adopters were quick to grab a device that was widely positioned as the next-big-thing in computing.

But it turns out that many of the things you can do on a tablet are also things you can already do on a phone. And some things you do on a tablet can be better done on a laptop… or a 2-in-1 device with a detachable keyboard or 360-degree hinge that lets you hide the keyboard when it’s not in use.

IDC’s tablet report doesn’t necessarily present a full picture, because it’s focused on slate tablets, which don’t have keyboards. Those that do have detachable keyboards are classified as “traditional notebook PCs or laptops,” and the research firm says shipments of those devices continues to rise… while slate shipments decline.

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9 replies on “IDC: Global tablet shipments are down 8.5 percent”

  1. A small mistake

    “IDC reports that tablet shipments in the first quarter of 2017 were down 8.5 percent from the same period in 2017.” <<<2016

  2. The article is right on the money. Whatever you can do on a tablet can also be done on a phone within the same ecosystem, and for most people, the performance of their mobile OS devices has been ‘good enough’ for quite some time.

    I’m writing this on my 2012 ASUS PadFone 2, and I can still comfortably surf the web on it, stream music and HD Video, read books and play casual games. Let’s be honest, the only thing that really NEEDS the latest SoCs are graphically intense games, and complex games still play like ass without physical controls.

    If you’re looking for upgraded capabilities to justify a new device it’s usually to do more, not the same slightly faster. So people usually opt to “upgrade” to more capable (Desktop-)OSes if it’s motivated by actual need rather than a want for a new status symbol.

    1. Because this is a global comparison and Amazon is only present at a selected few, albeit key markets?

    2. I just bought a Kindle Fire 7 this year on sale for $40. Now I have 2 of these, including one I bought last year. Great tablet! I also have 3 iPads for the kids that are over 2 years old. I don’t plan to buy any new tablets for a long time, unless one of these breaks.

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