According to figures published by International Data Corporation (IDC), the Western European tablet market stabilised in Q2 2015, with total shipments contracting annually by 1,2% and reaching 7,5-million units.
This small decline, which was the softest since the downturn started at the beginning of 2014, resulted from the combined effect of persistent weak demand for consumer tablets and increasing interest in 2-in-1s and as commercial tablets. Furthermore, the drop in tablet shipments stabilised at 4,4% while growth for 2-in-1s persisted at 71%.
The overall volume of 2-in-1s remains relatively small, but demand continues to prove buoyant and Q2 saw the share of these devices jump to 7,3% of the total market.
“The interest in 2-in-1s that we observed in previous quarters is clearly materialising into corporate deployments and consumer purchases, especially among professionals and students,” says Daniel Goncalves, research analyst at IDC EMEA Personal Computing.
“Growth in the area, however, was also driven by increased supply of models that arrived on the market as vendors improved or extended their portfolio and new entrants stepped into the market,” says Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst at IDC EMEA Personal Computing.
“The most notable new 2-in-1 model is probably the Microsoft Surface 3, a smaller and more affordable version of Surface Pro 3, but other new 2-in-1s were introduced by well-established international players as well as several local or sub-regional vendors.
“The latter not only contributed to broaden the 2-in-1 offering but, thanks to the strength of their brand at a local level and the usually lower price points of their products, also helped boost the volume of the market for detachable devices, where their share jumped sequentially from below 1% to over 4%. Local and sub-regional vendors continued to play a key role in the tablet market, as their shipments contributed to some stabilisation of the market.”
The tablet vendor landscape remained clearly dominated by Apple and Samsung in Europe but the resurgence of the local champions participated in an evolving picture. Traditional smartphone vendors such as Huawei and Alcatel have also been steadily making progress, especially through the telco channel, by leveraging healthy demand for connected devices.
Besides connectivity, the commercial market remains a silver lining for tablets, with shipments increasing by more than 50% compared to the same quarter of a year ago. Although progress in the commercial adoption of tablets varies significantly across countries, demand appears to be solid for both tablets and 2-in-1s, given that the two form factors meet different business needs.
In particular, slate tablets tend to be preferred for specific vertical functions, at times requiring some degree of customisation, while detachable devices are more popular among larger companies and in the education sector. Compared to portable PCs, however, 2-in-1s still have a marginal presence across businesses in Western Europe and it is clear that more work needs to be done in terms of both performance and applications to increase their penetration in the commercial space.
“Unlike the PC market, which has gone through a consolidation phase, the tablet market seems to be undergoing a share redistribution phase, with country or sub-regional champions increasingly able to capture local demand,” says Chrystelle Labesque, research manager: EMEA Personal Computing at IDC.
“The vendor landscape in the tablet market remains very broad and while price and volume pressures were at first negatively impacting smaller players, some of them now seem to have established a better position, capturing specific local demands or segment needs at the expense of more dominant players. Apple and Samsung are both focusing a lot of attention on the commercial segment, and are capturing part of this increasing opportunity, while traditional PC manufacturers are also extending their solutions offer to this segment.”
In terms of vendor growth, Samsung posted a double-digit rise in shipments thanks to good demand for several of its flagship models and favourable year-on-year comparison. Apple lost a few percentage points annually, owing to slow replacements of the vendor’s existing devices. Lenovo’s growth flattened as the good response to its Windows products offset weak demand for Android devices. Asus’ shipments strongly contracted as the vendor prepares for the renewal of its product range while Microsoft entered the Top 5 vendor ranking thanks to good progress of Surface Pro 3 shipments and the introduction of the company’s latest 2-in-1 model, Surface 3.
The variety of vendors accounting for the remaining third of the market showed varying performances. Their combined share decreased annually but gained 5,4% sequentially thanks to a 4% increase in shipments over the previous quarter.