Yesterday Apple announced that they sold 16.1 million iPads for Q4 2015, slightly under the 18 million that Wall Street was projecting for the quarter. But it's not just Apple feeling the tablet decline pinch, it's an industry trend. TrendForce is reporting today that global tablet shipments fell double digits for the first time in 2015 with the decline reaching 12.2% year-over-year. The gradual contraction of the global tablet market has become a more pronounced trend.
Anita Wang, notebook analyst for TrendForce stated for the report that "The saturation of the tablet market, the long life cycles of tablets themselves and the abundance of substitute devices were major factors that contributed to the large shipment decline. Tablets were challenged by many large and small devices during 2015, from smartphones sized 5 inches and above to 2-in-1 PCs. Their demand diminished as a result."
As noted in the table above, Apple retained its title of top tablet brand worldwide in 2015, but iPad shipments fell by as much as 22% year on year, from 63.4 million units in 2014 to 49.6 million in 2015. The decline in Apple's annual tablet shipments exceeded the market average, and the brand likewise saw its worldwide market share shrink from 33% in 2014 to 29.4% in 2015. The release of iPad Pro in the final quarter of 2015 only made limited contribution to Apple's shipments.
Apple's CEO didn't say much about the iPad in his official opening statement other than to say that the satisfaction rate for the iPad 2 Air was at 97% according to current studies and that the iPad Pro was extremely well received, without providing us with any tangible stats to back up that claim.
One of the reporters covering the Wall Street Journal's live blog of Apple's financial conference call yesterday stated that "Apple's defense has consistently been that the market is still figuring out what the right upgrade cycle is for tablets. I'm not so sure how much longer that armor can be worn, given the number of new iPad models Apple has rolled out over the years."
One of the likely tablet trends for 2016 that could help to boost sales is the introduction of a dual-camera or dual-lens cameras. This trend was reported on this morning in our report titled "This Year's Camera Trend for Smartphones will be Dual Cameras and it's likely to Debut on the iPhone 7 Plus." With the right set of applications designed for these new cameras, like VR, there could be a renewed interest in Apple's next-gen iPads.
And one last point: Microsoft didn't even make the top five vendors for tablets as noted in the chart above, which is almost a story by itself.