The latest International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker has brought joy to the hearts of Luddites everywhere with the news that: “worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market’s inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2 percent growth.” This follows from the last quarter’s IDC predictions which already forecast that the global market had hit peak tablet.
All the same, “although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 increased 4.4%, totaling 229.6 million units.” And “despite an apparent slow-down of the market, we maintain our forecast about tablet growth in 2015,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets, at IDC. So it seems we’re not quite ready for a bonfire of the tablet vanities yet.
Highlights of the analysis are that “although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn’t enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones. Meanwhile, Samsung’s struggles continued as low-cost vendors are quickly proving that mid- to high-priced Android tablets simply aren’t cut out for today’s tablet market.”
Fragmented? Commoditized? Bottom-seeking? That could be the shape of the evolving tablet market. However, I can’t find much to regret in the prospect of a world of cheap practically disposable digital access/productivity devices, especially when even the low end offers high functionality. Amazon may be less happy about it, though. They “recorded the steepest annual volume decline among the top five vendors. Despite a product refresh at the end of September with their Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, and the introduction of a low-end 6-inch Fire HD (excluded from our numbers given the small screen size does not match IDC’s definition of a tablet) and 7-inch Fire HD, holiday sales declined nearly -70% compared to last year.”