Apple’s decline in shipments and share has been partly attributed to its aging portfolio. But Canalys believes that new product launches will have less impact on its shipments in future. ‘When Apple does decide to refresh its iPad range it will not experience the buzz of previous launches,’ said Canalys Analyst James Wang. ‘Tablets are now mainstream products and hardware innovation is increasingly difficult. With branded Android tablets available for less than $150, the PC market has never been so good for consumers, who are voting with their wallets.’ The move to smaller tablets has sparked a price war that has real consequences for the entire supply chain. These products generate little absolute margin for channel partners, vendors or component manufacturers. Content, applications and accessories (especially cases and keyboards) are now even more important to boost margins – areas where Apple remains a leader.While Canalys saw Apple's share of the tablet market fall below 50% for the first time during the second quarter of 2013, other studies have shown that the milestone was passed earlier. For example, IDC showed Apple falling to 43.6% back in the fourth quarter of 2012. Difficulties in tracking actual sales and shipment, particularly with respect to generic devices sold in emerging markets, frequently lead to wide disparities in results from various firms.
Also unclear is what many of these non-Apple tablets are being used for, as web usage statistics have consistently shown the iPad dominating the market.
Apple is expected to refresh the iPad line as soon as next month, with the release of a fifth-generation iPad that is said to be lighter and thinner than previous models, and a new iPad mini that is likely to have a high-resolution Retina display.