As the mobile industry continues to flourish, one particular segment has recently experienced a down turn. The latest statistics show that tablet computer shipments are down as much as twelve percent in Q4 of 2014, as compared to the year previous.
The leading tablet sales vendors, Apple and Samsung, experienced upwards of a twenty percent drop in device shipments each, as compared to their 2013 numbers for the fourth quarter of the year.
Now, before we get all alarmist and yell something about the tablet market being in serious trouble, it is important to note that the full year numbers for 2014 reveal a modest eight percent growth over 2013. This may not be the growth that many were hoping for, nor provide confidence for a strong tablet market in 2015, but it is still growth.
Who did what?
Looking at some of the numbers for the specific vendors reveals that Apple’s iPad sales are down close to twenty percent, and Samsung came out a few points worse than that. ASUS, as well, experienced a year over year loss for the quarter, at nearly twenty five percent reduction in device shipments. Tablets from these three vendors are usually in the mid to high price range of the market, so how did one of the biggest manufacturers of low-cost tablets do?
I speak of Amazon, with their line of Fire tablets. The line was recently updated with new size options and internals, prices remained similar though, clocking in as some of the least expensive tablets around. Q4 of 2014 for Amazon tablets was what you might call a disaster, if you look strictly at the device shipment numbers, seeing almost seventy percent drop from the year previous.
Why are sales down?
The holiday season is when many vendors of mobile technology rake in the big bucks, leading many to surmise that tablets will be a tough sell as we move forward. Indeed, there is an overwhelming availability of smartphones on the market that are clocking in with screen sizes comparable to small tablets, leaving many consumers to ignore the WiFi only tablets.
With all of this info under our belts, one might assume that the tablet market is simply saturated. We previously reported that the majority of homes in the U.S. in 2013 had at least one tablet. Many of these devices are still active and serving their owners well. Speaking for myself, my 2012 Nexus 7 only recently retired as being my go-to device for mobile computing, and my wife uses her 2013 Nexus 7 every day as well, no real need for new tablets here, but we both ‘need’ new phones soon.
ASUS is no longer the supplier of Google’s Nexus tablets, that honor now goes to HTC. As the Nexus 7 was not readily available for sale in Q4 2014, there should be no surprise at a drop. As for Amazon, their tablets run their own version of Android, skipping the Google embellishments, we can’t help but imagine that has played a part in their drop.
Is there any good news?
It is not all bad, however. For starters, we are seeing above average growth out of Lenovo. Although their gear is not as readily available to users outside of China, they are moving up, and can afford to focus more on tablets now that they have Motorola under their belt to tackle the smartphone market. The information at hand reveals one more huge positive – we covered the top five individual vendors above, but the remaining tablet vendors out there make up almost thirty three percent of the market, and they experienced over thirty six percent growth in Q4 2014. Thirty two percent growth for the entire year.
Bottom line, four of the top five tablet vendors struggled in Q4 2014, but as a whole, the remaining vendors are on a roll. As you can imagine, we’ll be following the market closely throughout 2015 and beyond, where we may end up talking about a few new names in the industry. Stay tuned, we’ll be updating our sister site, TabTimes’ State of the Tablet Market post soon, bringing all of the best stats to date.
Q4 performed poorly, but 2014 still experienced growth
Revisiting the questions we have asked more than once in the past, are you in the market for a new tablet, or will you be picking up a larger screen smartphone instead? Also, do you view a tablet as a true mobile device, take it with you on the go, or are tablets just convenient PC replacements for casual use while hanging out at home?