Are Tablets in Decline Already?


For years, Apple CEO Tim Cook used his company’s earnings calls to tout the rising fortunes of the iPad, which he claimed would eventually overtake the market for traditional PCs.

But on Apple’s April 23 earnings call, Cook spent a few minutes doing the exact opposite: pushing back against the perception that the iPad’s fortunes have turned increasingly anemic. Sales of the tablet “came in at the high end of our expectations, but we realized they were below analyst estimates,” he told those on the line.

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Cook can pump the iPad all he wants—it’s his job, after all—but according to new data from research firm IDC, the tablet market is indeed slowing down in a serious way. Tablet shipments hit 50.4 million in the first three months of 2014, a quarter-over-quarter decline of 35.7 percent. That’s a big drop but not necessarily a surprising one, considering how the fourth quarter of the year always swells with holiday sales. What’s more worrisome for the industry is how the tablet market has grown a mere 3.9 percent year-over-year—far below what you’d expect for a hot technology segment.

“The rise of large-screen phones and consumers who are holding on to their existing tablets for ever longer periods of time were both contributing factors to a weaker-than-anticipated quarter for tablets and 2-in-1s,” Tom Mainelli, IDC program vice president of devices and displays, wrote in a statement accompanying the data. “In addition, commercial growth has not been robust enough to offset the slowing of consumer shipments.”

Apple has seen its share of the tablet market decline 16.1 percent year-over-year, according to IDC; Samsung, the biggest player in the Android space, enjoyed a year-over-year increase of 32 percent; Amazon took the biggest hit in IDC’s estimation, tumbling 47.2 percent.

These estimates don’t mean the tablet market is doomed, or even over-hyped; but they could put the brakes on the idea that ultra-portable touchscreens will soon reduce laptops and desktops to the status of ancient relic.

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Image: Apple

4 Responses to “Are Tablets in Decline Already?”

  1. jelabarre

    Hate to disappoint all the Apple fans out there, but the whyPad isn’t the only tablet out there, it wasn’t even the first. So perhaps the reason the sales number on iFad products isn’t up to what they hoped is because people are buying into Android, and there might even be one or two people with MSWindows tablets. Apple has had their run as the major tablet supplier, time they got the tough lesson MS is going to have to learn; they are not the only game in town.

  2. In the era of rapid Technological development this is bound to happen also the fact the Apple product line is expensive. If i can get three products at the same price that does the same thing why not go for the most cost effective option. This will happen with all devices and products, it happens with any product and services.

    The respond by Apple will be interesting do they release their IOS to different vendors or do they drop the prices of their devices to get back market share?

  3. Chris Carter

    I see people on TV walk around with tablets… as if they don’t look stupid. You automatically lose an arm just holding a tablet in the air, like news casters that try to have their tablet handy as if to look cool, or seems smart. Of course, they look so foolish.