Hybrid 2-in-1 Convertible Tablets Sales Soar While Straight-Up Slates Slide

Surface fam
It’s no secret that the traditional [slate] tablet market has taken a nosedive in recent years. We’ve seen market leader Apple report declining sales for the past two years, with iPad sales falling 25 percent year-over-year during the company’s fiscal Q1 — and if Apple is seeing a slide in tablet sales, the rest of the industry is surely seeing similar trends.

Well, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide tablet market took a 13.7 percent hit in sales during Q4 2015. Total quarterly tablet sales came in at 65.9 million, while full calendar year sales tallied 206.8 million (which represented a 10.1 percent decrease from 2014).

By while the overall tablet market was down, there was one bright spot that IDC monitored: detachable tablets (i.e. Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Apple iPad Pro). IDC noted that sales in the detachables category more than doubled during the fourth quarter. And surprisingly, despite the positive reviews and Microsoft’s experience with detachable tablets, it was actually Apple that eked out a win over the Surface Pro family in the category for Q4 according to IDC.

"Despite lukewarm reviews, the iPad Pro was the clear winner this season as it was the top selling detachable, surpassing notable entries from Microsoft and other PC vendors,” said IDC Senior Research Analyst Jitesh Ubrani.

ipad pro

"One of the biggest reasons why detachables are growing so fast is because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements," added Jean Philippe Bouchard. This is the same angle that Microsoft has been pushing ever since the original Surface Pro was released in February 2013. However, in practice, its form-factor didn’t lend itself to high productivity levels when actually used in a lap, hence the introduction of a further refinement of the concept: the Surface Book.

As for individual players in the tablet market, Apple, Samsung and Lenovo all experienced double-digit shipment declines during Q4 2015 (24.9, 18.1 and 13.5 percent declines, respectively). Amazon, on the other hand, witnessed an incredible 175.7 percent increase year-over-year. which can partially be attributed to the bargain basement $50 7-inch Fire tablet that was released just in time for the Christmas shopping season. The other player in the top 5 that reported a tablet sales uptick was Huawei, which saw its fourth quarter shipments rise by 124.6 percent year-over-year.