Shrinking demand for tablets, but iPad is still on top
Global tablet sales dropped 9.3-percent over the past year, as the market presented fewer new slate-style flagships and an increased trend toward 2-in-1 style convertible PCs. However, industry analysts forecast that Apple will remain on top, thanks to its lower-priced recently refreshed iPad and the 10.5-inch model rumored to be forthcoming.
In the first quarter of 2017, Apple took 27.9-percent of the tablet market share (in terms of global shipments) followed by Samsung with 19.1-percent, Huawei with 6.6-percent, Lenovo with 6.4-percent and Amazon with 6.3-percent. Apple's 27.9 percent represents 8.92 million iPads shipped in Q1 of 2017 – down from 10.3 million shipped in Q1 2016.
Neither the shrinking demand for tablets nor Apple's leading role in this area is a surprise, considering that iPads were the first competitive entry into the tablet market, and that "iPad" is nearly an eponymous moniker for tablets of any make or model. However, iPads – especially the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch Pro models – have come under fire recently for their lack of pro features. Without expandable storage, expansion ports, or a full desktop operating system, they lack some key features of their main competitors.
But analysts believe Apple will continue to enjoy a place at the head of the table, in part due to momentum, but also thanks to the lowered price (US$329) of its latest model. We believe that Apple took a step in the right direction lowering the buying threshold, but as far as the rumored 10.5-inch edition, we'll hold our speculation until more details emerge. Last year, reputable KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo hinted at fetching features like a nearly bezel-less screen, boosted internals and a redesigned chassis, but it's been some time since those details were elucidated.