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IDC: Tablet shipments decline for 11th straight quarter despite Apple rebound

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The tablet market has now been in decline for 11 quarters in a row. Q2 2017 saw a 3.4 percent year-over-year decline: 37.9 million units shipped worldwide, compared to 39.3 million units in the same quarter last year. The silver lining is that this year the drops are no longer double-digits like they were in 2016.

The estimates come from IDC, which counts both slate form factors (declining since 2014) and detachables (slightly down), meaning tablets with keyboards are included. The top two tablet makers maintained their positions: Apple was first and Samsung second. And the top five vendors accounted for 66.1 percent of the market, up from 56.6 percent last year:

Apple saw its shipment numbers rebound after a 13-quarter losing streak, gaining 4.7 percentage points in market share as a result. This was completely unexpected, as the company is focusing on its Services business, but IDC argues that the new iPad’s relatively low price point triggered some consumers to upgrade their aging devices.

Samsung shipped the same number of tablets as a year ago, which meant it ended up gaining 0.4 percentage points. In this quarter, the South Korean company lost ground to its American competitor, which is the opposite of what happened last quarter and for most of 2016.

Huawei shipped 900,000 more units this quarter, catapulting itself once again into third place, thanks to a 2.7 percentage point jump, and landing ahead of Amazon and Lenovo. This is the same position the Chinese company occupies in smartphones, which suggests its brand marketing is working across the board.

Amazon gained 2.3 percentage points, largely thanks to offering new tablets at a better price and continuing to offer a dedicated bundle with kid-friendly content. Lenovo lost 0.8 points, a sign that its low-cost strategy is faltering.

Overall, while three of the top five vendors managed to increase share, IDC expects these gains to be temporary. The replacement cycle for tablets is still closer to that of traditional PCs than smartphones, and first-time buyers are rare.

“The tablet market has essentially become a race to see if the burgeoning detachables category can grow fast enough to offset the long-term erosion of the slate market,” IDC research director Linn Huang said in a statement. “From that lens, the second quarter was a slight righting of the ship and there is still much to be hopeful about in the back half of 2017. New product launches from Microsoft and Apple are generally accompanied by subsequent quarters of inflated shipments, the reintroduction of Windows to the ARM platform could help remedy the aforementioned hollowing of the middle of the market, and we expect a proliferation of Chrome OS-based detachables in time for the holidays.”

Separately, Strategy Analytics shared its own figures and included an operating system share breakdown for the quarter: iOS increased its share to 26 percent, Android fell to 60 percent, and Windows stayed steady at 14 percent.

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