Strong iPad Sales in Q4 Cushioned Apple as Tablet Shipments Decline Continued in 2016

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That not many people may be interested in buying a new tablet today than there were 3 to 4 years ago is not really surprising. At this point in time, we have gotten used to the quarterly grim outlook from the various research firms that cover the industry extensively.

The latest such research, from TrendForce, doesn’t do much to change the conversation. Tablet freefall continued unabated last year with 6.6% fewer tablets being shipped compared to the year before, 2015.

While things did not go so well for most tablet makers, there were some exceptions as much as everyone shipped fewer tablets. Apple, for instance, saw renewed interest in iPads in its record-breaking fourth quarter of 2016, thanks to the holiday season where gifting friends and family with shiny new iPads has become a hard tradition to leave behind. Even then, the company saw its overall iPad shipments in 2016 drop by 14% with over 42 million of the 157 million units tablets shipped last year bearing the Apple logo.

Even with new iPads tipped for release this year, TrendForce analysts expect iPad shipments to decline this year to about 40 million units.

Samsung, which is expected to unveil a new premium tablet at Mobile World Congress in little over a week’s time, won’t fair much better either this year. Its tablet shipments are expected to drop from 27 million last year to 25 million units.

In the smartphone vendor list global ranking, Apple, Samsung and Chinese device maker Huawei round up the top three. Things are a little different when it comes to tablets. Last year, Huawei only managed to ship 9.77 million tablets, a figure that puts it fifth in the list. American e-commerce giant Amazon was able to properly leverage holiday sales and its attractive pricing of tablets to beat everyone else to the coveted third spot. Amazon shipped 11 million units, a 99% growth over the previous year. Chinese device maker, Lenovo, came a close fourth with 10.9 million shipments of its own tablets which go by the Yoga, Miix and other brands.

There are chances that Microsoft could have faired much better had it released its exciting lineup of new Surface products much earlier but sixth place is not such a bad place for a company whose presence in the mobile world is neglible. Microsoft shipped 3.89 million tablets last year to hold on to sixth place while Taiwanese device maker Asus came seventh after shipping just 3.4 million tablets, a huge (35%) drop from the previous year.

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