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A little over 76 million tablets and 2-in-1 devices were shipped in the last quarter of 2014 according to research firm IDC. That sounds like a lot of tablets… until you realize that it marks a 3.2 percent decline from the same period a year earlier.

ipad mini 3_02That’s the first time IDC has seen a year-over-year decline in tablet shipments since the category started exploding in 2010.

This also follows a report from Flurry Analytics in December which showed that activations of new tablets was down during the 2014 holiday season.

Update: Canalys also released a report this week showing that tablet shipments are down.

Tablet Shipments
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, February 2, 2015


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23 replies on “Lilbits (2-02-2015): Tablet shipments are down”

  1. It’s possible that shoppers are buying phones with bigger screens, bet that ticks off the “big phones suck” apple head types…..hypocrites

  2. I wonder what the split between Android and Windows is – is Android now at 70% share, or is Windows starting to gain some ground in tablets? Are 2-in-1s included in these stats?

    Apple’s share tends to always be higher than average in Q4, so would be interesting to know what the yearly IOS/Android/Windows share is.

    Interesting to see that 46.2% of the market is made up of companies who individually have less than 2.3%, meaning that the market is made up of a lot of companies. This is a good thing for competition.

  3. A 3.2% decline in a market so close to saturation only sounds like news to me because sales are doing that WELL. The real implication is that the tablet population is sill growing phenomenally as laggards wake up.

  4. I seem to be the only person disappointed to see the decline of tablet sales.

    I use my Toshiba Thrive daily for reviewing e-mails, surfing the web, and playing games, along with occasional desktop-type duties such as editing documents and connecting to work machines via VPN and remote desktop software. The performance of the tablet has declined recently, and I attribute it to more memory being consumed by updated versions of Google apps and other apps I use.

    I would like to replace my aging Thrive with a new 10-inch class Android tablet with current specs. I expected to see a slew of such machines announced at this year’s CES, but was surprised at how few new tablets were displayed.

    A side note: Brad, thanks for your excellent coverage of the 2015 CES. I felt like I attended the show in person.

    My ideal replacement tablet would have these specs:

    – 10-inch screen (I think 7 or 8 inch screens would be too small for my eyes these days – 9 inch screens might work – a bigger screen is not needed, especially with the limit for Microsoft’s new Android Office apps)

    – Android 4.4 or newer (either native with the tablet or having the ability to upgrade to Kit Kat)

    – Quad-core processor, at least 2 GHz (would prefer faster – really like my Nexus 5’s speed). Maybe a 64-bit processor, but 32-bit is OK.

    – 2 GB of memory or more

    – 32 GB of storage or more

    – 6 to 8 hours of battery life

    – USB port (3.0 preferred) – would prefer to have two, if one is used for charging the tablet

    – SD card slot (preferred)

    – HDMI output

    – Decent speakers and headphone jack

    – Optionally, a stylus

    – Optionally, LTE

    – Camera(s) and tablet weight are not a concern for me

    I researched for a recent tablet with these specs, and only found two that meet most of my desired specs: the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) LTE version (ideally with 64 GB of storage, but this is hard to find), and the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet. Getting a 10-inch Android tablet with a processor faster than 2 GHz seems to be the big stumbling block.

    Does anyone know of a new-ish or upcoming Android tablet with specs similar to my list above?


  5. I remember going to Radio Shack with my Dad to test the tubes in our TV when the picture quality got bad. Later, we would go there to get all kinds of parts for electronics projects. Now, their motto is “you’ve got questions, we have blank stares…and cell phones!”. Sad to see them go but not really surprised.

    1. that’s funny, and very true. eons ago, the local radio shack owner helped me install my first radio in my first car when I was 17. I was shocked that he volunteered to come out to the parking lot and install the thing for me. That was awesome. Now my 6 year old son is more tech savvy than the local Radio Shack employees. Its really almost embarrassing going in there, I feel bad for the dude behind the counter.

  6. I just got a CUBE U67GT iWork 7 because it’s only 7″ and now comes with 2GB of RAM, making it the smallest “UMPC” available, and for only $107 with free shipping. I am waiting for it today or possibly tomorrow. Last year I bought a VOYO A1 mini and a Ainol inovo8 which I already sold because it just felt to big, and the USB 3.0 wasn’t as big of a deal as I expected, you can do everything with 2.0 no problem.
    I think the stats are downed by the ARM nonsense because the plateaued in functionality back in 2012. Basically you get nothing with a newer version other than a different UI, so why would anyone upgrade, when they can get the same functionality out of the old one. Wintel is the only breath of fresh air in this segment, and a much anticipated player by the followship created back in the UMPC days, which were themselves the PDA crowd from way back, people who gravitated to the iOS and ANDROID novelty trinkets, as a poor and frustrating substitute designed to mesmerize children and simpletons. But rest assured, our day in the sun is soon to come! Cherry Trail phones in the 4’th quarter of this year!

    1. that CUBE U67GT iWork 7 looks pretty slick. I don’t own any windows tablets, tempted to give it a try
      let me know how you like it

  7. Good. Tablets are much less useful compared to a decent laptop. Happy to see 2-in-1 take over the volume market.

    Coincidentally sent from my Nexus 7.

    1. I never understand why people say it’s a good thing a certain segment of the market is doing poorly. Tablets aren’t evil, and they don’t preclude the purchase and use of other types of mobile devices. I use my tablet and my laptop on a daily basis, and I’m quite happy to have one of each type of device. They serve different purposes.

      It’s not good or bad (for the general public) that tablets shipments are down. It merely is.

      1. is that so?
        or does everyone who wants/needs a tablet already own one and all that’s sold now is replacement/upgrades?
        If that’s the case, then if we’d continue to sell so many as before, we’d just waste (more) ressources. So in that case it’d be bad for the general public to sell more tablets.

        1. Okay, so there is the environmental impact — I’m fine with the notion that sales of all types of stuff, like cars, computers, phones, TVs, etc., being down is a good thing, but that’s clearly not what the OP was talking about.

      2. It’s not that they’re doing poorly though, I don’t think the OP is gloating about that. But a few years ago, we had all these claims that PCs were dying (because PC sales had similarly falled), and claims that in a few years we’d all be throwing away PCs for ipads (or other similar claims, I remember one prediction that in 2015 everyone would be watching TV on ipads instead of TV[*]). Tablets are useful and 2-in-1s are great, but I feared a future where a keyboard was seen as a luxury, and computers were all locked down devices. So it’s nice to see that the stats are starting to show what’s really happening – that people are using tablets in addition to, not instead of, other devices like laptops (or TVs), as you say.

        [*] A quick Google reveals TV sales in 2013 were 225 million, showing how ludicrous that claim is. Quite impressive when you consider TVs tend to be bought less often than tablets, plus buying a tablet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re using it instead of a TV.

    2. Tablets are here to stay folks, relax.

      It’s very simple:
      Tablets cost half the price of Laptops and does 80% of the same tasks.
      A cheap Tablet costs $100 versus a basic Laptop $200.
      Good Luck holding your heavy Laptop with your hands for two hours.

      That is all.

  8. Really impressed by the ‘other’ segment. Last year, this group accounted for a little over 1/3. This year, they’re pushing 50%. Seems to me that things are stabilizing if you look at tablets as PC replacements for many folks (Android, as a general purpose OS, being the Windows counterpart of 5-10 years ago). It always seemed to me a little odd that one company (Samsung) could so thoroughly dominate Android sales but now things seem to be shifting, allowing more room for competitors (like the old days).

    I’m curious where Windows hybrids fit into all of this. MS’s SP3 was a big hit – I almost ordered one (Win8.x was the fatal blow and have decided to wait until at least Win10.x). Plus… seems like everyone is building hybrids these days. Been waiting for the right hybrid combined with a *productive* OS for a long time. It’ll probably be Windows based… as both Apple and Linux appear out of the picture in the short term.

  9. Given that tablets are best for media consumption, the rise of Smart TVs and sticks like Roku and Chromecast have probably dampened demand somewhat. Tablets are at the crossroads between smartphones, smart TVs, eReaders, and lowend laptops. They face tough competition, and don’t have the same upgrade cycle as mobile phones do.

    1. I think you nailed it at “upgrade cycle.” Tablets easily last 3-4 years without hardware failure. While a small segment of the population eagerly purchases every incremental release, most will hold onto a tablet as long as it fulfills basic tasks. Most who purchase them aren’t playing high end games – they are browsing the web, watching videos, checking email, and reading ebooks. And most who would purchase them have done so already. There will be a market for replacements, but the initial surge has passed.

      To reinforce the point, I typed this on an Archos Gen8. 🙂

      1. I agree. I’m a gadget geek and buy lots of tablets, almost exclusively used or refurbed. We currently have 11 tablets for our family of 5. I just like to tinker and I get them cheap, its mainly a hobby. But we are still rocking 5 HP Touchpads that I bought for $100 a piece over three years ago. I’ve bought newer tablets and they just weren’t any better for our needs.
        The most I’ve spent on a tablet is $140 for my Note 8.0

    2. Actually a 7″ or so tablet makes an excellent “second screen” and remote control for something like Roku watching. Rather than use the tablet as the main viewing canvas you can be looking things up on the Web, plinking away at a game, RDPing into a server to check on the progress of some long running task like media transcoding or backup, or all of the above. A screen much smaller has marginal value, which is why even a honking 5″ phone that requires its own carrying purse is a silly idea. Reminds me – rebooting the cable modem when it falls over. When is Shartner going to do an ad where he raises his fist to the sky screaming “Comcast!” anyway?

  10. I bought a couple few Sammy tabs least year so don’t look at me.

  11. Tab sales are poor for the year on poor products but for Q4 you got a couple of extra reasons.
    Apple’s poor updates , if you exclude Apple for Q4 and the year in Q4 the others shipped 54.7 mil units vs 52.6 last year. For the year excluding Apple you got 165.2 vs 145.6 so almost 14% growth.
    And a transition to the new chips , hard to ship lots of inventory that will get outdated when A53 based SoCs take over.

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