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Tablet Shipments Decline; Apple, Samsung Suffer Biggest Drops
By Kelly Teal
August 07, 2014 - News

Would you believe it if we told you that the tablets sector is beginning to wane?

That’s the position of one research firm, Canalys.

Still, we’d like to maintain perspective that tablet shipments remain in the millions, even though, as Canalys points out, the market is not showing sequential growth.

In a new report out this week, Canalys says worldwide tablet shipments fell about 5 percent, sequentially, to 48.4 million units in the second quarter. Apple and Samsung suffered the greatest declines, even though both continue to account for 46 percent of market share, Canalys found.

Apple shipped just under 13.3 million iPads, its weakest quarter since the first quarter of 2012, Canalys said. Meantime, Samsung shipped just fewer than 8.9 million tablets. That’s a decline, but not as sharp as Apple’s, Canalys said.

Analysts provided different reasons for the slowdown. First, said Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys, there’s been a drop in the pace of innovation.

“The tablet market has quickly found itself in the same position the notebook market was in some years ago, with minimal increases in hardware performance forming the basis for an argument to upgrade," said Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Coulling. “But when considering the most common tasks that tablets are asked to perform, the need for more horsepower is often not evident. Vendors will need to work harder to give reasons to upgrade if things are to improve in Q3. In addition, as smartphone screen sizes increase, the potential for such products to disrupt the market for 7-inch tablets is also increasing."

When it comes to Apple vs. Samsung, in particular, the iPad maker really seems to be up against itself.

“Pricing remains Apple’s biggest barrier to growth and essentially locks it out of a number of markets," said Rushabh Doshi, research analyst for Canalys. “By holding firm on its prices, Apple ensures that its tablet business is highly profitable. But as sales in its key markets slow, it is betting on the improving economic environment in high-growth markets, such as China, to drive future growth."

Samsung’s challenges are different, Doshi said. That’s because the company, which makes devices that run on Google’s Android operating system, is trying to compete in a range of areas.

“The release of the Galaxy Tab S line saw it add Super AMOLED screens to its tablet offerings as well as introduce a new 10.5-inch screen to its portfolio," Doshi said. “With Samsung playing in so many segments, it is able to find pockets of demand. But it also drives obsolescence in other areas of its portfolio, causing inventory buildup that necessitates rounds of promotional activity."

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