Ah, tablets. If a tablet was one of the characters in my sappy rom-com, it’d be the ‘one that got away’. To me, it was a novel idea where you could have your smartphone with you for the serious business stuff while your tablet showed you a good time between working hours — literally, with videos and movies or a good book — but when you actually think about it, the tablet simply isn’t practical.
If you take a look at the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) latest report on their preliminary data from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, you’ll find the truth in my words as tablet sales are on a downward trajectory. That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom though as their report also says that detachable tablet sales have reached an all-time high — lead by the sales of none other than the Apple iPad Pro.
Spearheading the detachable (or convertible/2-in-1) pack to finish at 8.1 million devices sold in Q4 of 2015 is Apple’s biggest iPad, the Pro, raking in just over 2 million units sold — more than Microsoft’s entire Surface lineup put together. That’s quite surprising if you ask me because we think that the Surface, especially the Pro 4 is a fantastic little 2-in-1 that can easily replace your laptop, at least for productivity anyway.
On the other hand, if you look at reviews online, the iPad Pro is nothing more than a ginormous iPad with a flimsy looking rubber keyboard that has the word “Smart” in its name. Uh oh, am I “bashing” Apple again? Oops.
I guess I was wrong then if we’re going off sales figures because Microsoft only sold about 1.6 million Surface devices in the same quarter. That’s a gigantic gap especially if you consider how many Surface devices there are on the market versus the lone iPad Pro. Quite a feat then but it’s worth noting that this is only one quarter and we’ll have to see if the iPad Pro can keep this up over the coming quarters.
We can definitely see the appeal of a 2-in-1 because it brings the power of the laptop into the form-factor of a tablet. The emphasis is on power though as IDC’s findings reveal that of the Surface devices sold, more of them are of the pricier and more powerful Surface Pro line, as opposed to a more affordable Surface 3.
That said, Microsoft wasn’t the biggest loser in the last quarter because that title belongs to Google. According to the IDC, Google’s recent stab at staking a claim in the convertible market was rather lackluster and that it “will require a lot more refinement to achieve any measurable success”.
Oh dear. Google better get cracking on that Chrome OS/Android operating system if they want to carve a slice out of this market.
Rounding up the report though is the sad news of the “slate” tablet’s slow demise as the entire tablet sales dropped 10.1%, from 230.1 million to 206.8 million devices. The way we see it, the problem with the slate tablet is that they’re neither here nor there.
Unless you’re picking up one of Apple’s iPads (they’re leading the sales by the way at 16.1 million units shipped — 7.1 million more than the second-placed Samsung) which do offer some tablet optimisations, you’re usually stuck with either an unoptimised Android tablet or a buggy Windows tablet.
Amazon’s USD50 (around RM210) Fire tablet, which runs on their own Fire OS, did come in at a surprising third place — accounting for 7.9% of the market share, beating out the likes of Lenovo and Huawei. Though IDC does note that Amazon’s success is purely based on the price of its tablet.
Trying times for the tablet industry it seems, though, there is some hope in the convertible market, it looks like the slate tablet is slowly dying off.