iPad Momentum Falls Flat as Tablet Market Experiences First Year-Over-Year Decline
iPad sales slowed in the fourth quarter as the worldwide tablet market experienced its first year-over-year decline since being established in 2010, according to the latest numbers from market research firm IDC. Apple shipped 21.4 million iPads for 28.1% market share in the fourth quarter to maintain a comfortable lead over Samsung, which shipped 11 million tablets for 14.5% market share during the three-month period ending December.
The worldwide tablet market continues to be mainly a two-horse race between Apple and Samsung, with smaller competitors such as Lenovo, Asus and Amazon shipping just 3.7 million, 3 million and 1.7 million tablets respectively during the fourth quarter. IDC says that, despite a year-over-year decline, worldwide tablet shipments increased 4.4% to total 229.6 million units in 2014.
"The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year," said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. "Although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn't enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones. Meanwhile, Samsung's struggles continued as low-cost vendors are quickly proving that mid- to high-priced Android tablets simply aren't cut out for today's tablet market."
Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri cautioned investors during last week's earnings call that iPad sales are unlikely to see a dramatic year-over-year improvement in the near future. Nevertheless, Apple is optimistic about pushing the iPad further into the enterprise through its IBM deal announced last July and is also seeing first-time buyer rates for the iPad as high as 70% in emerging markets such as China.