For several years the tablet market has been slowing down. Never realising its promise of completely replacing our laptops, sales growth has been minor the last couple of years and in 2019 it shrunk for the first time. Tablet shipments dropped by 1.5 percent in 2019 compared to the year prior, with a couple of brands taking the brunt of the hit.
Amazon and Apple have been the lone bright spots in this shrinking market. Their market shares grew to 35 percent for Apple and 9 percent for Amazon. Samsung, Huawei and Lenovo all saw their market share shrink amid weak sales.
The pressure the market is feeling was compounded by worse than expected sales during the holiday season.
Last year was a particularly important year for Apple when it comes to tablet updates. Unsurprisingly, it’s the sales of their lower-cost models that did especially well. The updated 10.2-inch base iPad represented almost two thirds of total tablet shipments for the Cupertino firm. Amazon saw some growth due to a massive Black Friday sale on its Fire tablets.
The other Android tablet OEMs saw varied fortunes across the various offerings. Huawei and Lenovo performed well in the Asia-Pacific region, their home territory, but struggled everywhere else. The Huawei ban in the US also didn’t help, of course. Samsung had a good year for Galaxy Tab S6 sales, its premium product with keyboard cover in tow. But their other tablets saw a big drop in sales. We expect to see Samsung update their lower-end tablets in 2020, which should help sales pick up again.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the tablet market isn’t the next blockbuster segment in the industry following the smartphone boom many were expecting. A big culprit could be the cheaper laptop market, which is still growing. You can buy a decent, lightweight machine for prices similar to tablets with much more functionality, which will always be tablets’ biggest hurdle.