When it comes to tablet sales, many have usually considered Apple’s iPad models to be the cream of the crop, mainly due to their convenience and accessibility. However, with an ever-changing market that introduces a number of competitors, it was only a matter of time before someone came along to shake things up.
A report from IDC indicates that, for the first time since its introduction, full-year iPad shipments have dropped in numbers. This is even with all the iPad models that have been introduced to the market, including the new iPad Air 2 that came out earlier this year.
iPads shipped show a total number of 64.9 million, which is a drop of 12.7 percent on the total number of shipments from last year, according to TechCrunch. That’s still a decent portion in the overall 235.7 million units that shipped in this year’s tablet market – a growth of 7.2 percent over last year.
Nevertheless, this is still bad news for Apple, as the growth between 2012 and 2013 in Apple shipments were much greater, to the tune of a 52.5 percent increase. Meanwhile, Android-based tablets are beginning to dominate the market, with a 68 percent hold overall, totaling almost 160 million devices shipped for the year.
Regardless, Apple continues to be the single-biggest brand in the tablet market with a 27.5 percent share overall, although that comes down to 22.1 percent considering the Q3 performance of iPads on the market. This could open up a big opportunity for Android to take over in 2015, if the right models come out.
“The tablet market continues to be impacted by a few major trends happening in relevant markets,” Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, writes. “In the early stages of the tablet market, device lifecycles were expected to resemble those of smartphones, with replacement occurring every 2-3 years. What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years. We believe the two major drivers for longer than expected tablet lifecycles are legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks.”
The report also noted other factors in terms of the market, including replacement cycles having an effect on sales. “Significant advancements have been made recently by hardware manufacturers to advance the 2-in-1, or detachable, product category,” IDC notes, along with thinner and less expensive devices. “Despite these advances, shipments of 2-in-1 devices are only expected to reach 8.7 million units in 2014, which is just 4% of the total tablet plus 2-in-1 market,” it notes.
Consumers can also be hesitant when buying a tablet, according to the report, as newer models are released all the time – particularly with Apple’s cycle.
What does this mean for marketers While Apple will continue to have a hefty hold on the tablet market, some may consider shopping around on Android services, especially considering that it’s slowly but surely taking a strong hold of its own. 2015 will definitely tell a big story when it comes to these devices. Still, Apple holds a dominant position in revenue for tablet apps, especially with games. Will Apple find ways to sell more tablets in 2015, or will Android tablets garner even greater market share