Opportunities for growth in the tablet market are getting fewer and further between, according to IDC, which claims the market continued to decline in Q3.
According to the analyst, global tablet shipments were down 12.6 per cent annually in Q3. The global installed base of tablets is now 581.9 million, up 36 per cent from 2013 but "slowing quickly".
"With mature markets like North America, western Europe, and Asia-Pacific well past 100 million active tablets per region, the opportunities for growth are getting fewer," the analyst said.
Long lifecycles and improvements in smartphones are behind the trend, IDC said.
"We continue to get feedback that tablet users are holding onto devices upwards of four years," said IDC analyst Ryan Reith. "We believe the traditional slate tablet has a place in the personal computing world. However, as the smartphone installed base continues to grow and the devices get bigger and more capable, the need for smaller form factor slate tablets becomes less clear. With shipment volumes slowing over four consecutive quarters, the market appears to be in transition."
Apple continues to lead the market, with 20.3 per cent market share in Q3, but its stranglehold on the market is loosening. Its unit shipments in Q3 fell 19.7 per cent to 12.3 million.
IDC said it is a victim of its own success in the space.
"Apple still holds the top position in the worldwide tablet market, although the days of deifying the iPad as the ultimate tablet may have come to an end," IDC said.
"Apple's self-cannibalisation and increasing competition from PC vendors with detachable tablets have both contributed to a decline in iPad shipments. However, the impending launch of the iPad Pro may serve as a silver lining as the market shifts towards productivity-enabling devices."
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