Demand for iPads in particular is cooling but that doesn't mean that tablets are going out of fashion, and sales are expected to continue to grow over the course of the year, albeit at a slower rate.
Preliminary data from research and analytics firm IDC actually shows that the worldwide tablet market has grown by 11 % year on year in the second quarter of 2014 -- some 49.3 million devices have been shipped over the past three months -- but that things are starting to slow down.
"As we indicated last quarter, the market is still being impacted by the rise of large-screen smartphones and longer than anticipated ownership cycles," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets. "We can also attribute the market deceleration to slow commercial adoption of tablets. Despite this trend, we believe that stronger commercial demand for tablets in the second half of 2014 will help the market grow and that we will see more enterprise-specific offerings, as illustrated by the Apple and IBM partnership, come to market."
When it comes to popularity, Apple is still holding onto its lead over the rest of the tablet-making industry, but the gap is closing. Only 13.3 million iPads were sold over the past three months giving it a 26.9 % market share. Samsung is in second place, having shipped 8.5 million tablets -- that gives it a 17.2 % share. However, the big winner is Lenovo, which saw its share jump to 3.3 % making it the third most popular tablet brand globally. Replicating a very similar feat it has achieved in the smartphone market.
"Until recently, Apple, and to a lesser extent Samsung, have been sitting at the top of the market, minimally impacted by the progress from competitors," said Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. "Now we are seeing growth amongst the smaller vendors and a leveling of shares across more vendors as the market enters a new phase."
This year was expected by many to be one of transition for the tablet market as companies move back to focusing on bigger nine-to-10-ich displays to counter competition from premium smartphones and phablets.
Apple is expected to unveil a ‘pro' 12-inch iPad in either late 2014 or early 2015 for this very reason as well as significantly increasing the screen size of its next iPhone handset to counter similar competition in the smartphone market.
However, while Apple is maintaining its position as the most popular tablet seller and should continue to do so into 2015 if the next generation of iPads lives up to the rumors and reports, it can no longer claim to be the most popular operating system. Just like in the smartphone market, Android has finally overtaken iOS as the most popular tablet OS.
According to Strategy Analytics figures, also published this week, tablets running Android accounted for 70 % of devices shipped over the second quarter of 2014.
"Android is continuing to make steady progress due to the wide range of vendors and wide range of screen sizes and price-points," said Strategy Analytics researcher Peter King.