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Tablet Market: Major Trends in 2018

04 Dec 2018 • by Natalie Aster

LONDON – The past few years have witnessed the calming down of the “tablet craze”. The global tablet market has probably reached its maturity – as sales tend to decline, whilst the lifespan of devices is increasing. In 2017, the volume of the world’s tablet shipments shrunk for the third year in a row, the only positive thing is that the decline of 2017 was not in double-digits as in 2016. As we approach the end of 2018, it seems that this year the tablet market has also failed to recover and register healthy growth.

TREND #1 Tablet Shipments Continue to Fall

In 2014, the volume of the global tablet shipments reached a record high of 230.1 million units, registering a robust upturn since 2010. However, over 2015-2017, the global shipments of tablets demonstrated a steady decline. As of 2017, only around 163.8 million tablets were shipped across the globe. In 2018, the global shipments volume of tablets is set to total even fewer – some 150.3 million units. Furthermore, a downward trend is slated to continue in the upcoming years with shipments expected to fall at an average rate of nearly 3.6%.

Global shipments of tablets during 2016-2019* (in million units) Global shipments of tablets during 2016-2019* (in million units)

The notable “slow-down” in the tablet market is attributed, to some extent, to an upsurge in sales of large-screen smartphones. Besides, tablets face fiercening competition from a range of other electronic devices like phablets, connected TVs, dedicated gaming devices, etc. Phablets are poised to be the major competitor of tablets in the near future: the increasing phablets sales are likely to hamper the demand for tablets in the years ahead. Another possible reason for the decline in tablet shipments might be the increasing preference for PCs instead of tablets for different personal, educational, and business purposes. Furthermore, some other restraints of the tablet market growth comprise high prices, weak video capabilities, poor input speed, potential screen damages, lack of keyboard, and high repair costs.

TREND #2 Tablet User Penetration to Keep On Increasing

In spite of the falling shipments volume, the global installed base of tablets is predicted to expand owing to the rising lifespans of tablets. Last year, the global installed base of tablets was about 800 million people, the figure is forecast to cross 1.1 billion units by the year 2022.

Worldwide, tablet penetration is on the rise. Last year, tablet users represented around 16% of the world’s total population. This year, the tablet user penetration as a share of global population is poised to come to 17%. The rising trend is set to continue in the years ahead.

Tablet user penetration as a share of global population, 2014-2021

Tablet user penetration as a share of global population, 2014-2021

TREND #3 Apple Dominates Tablet Market with Major Share in Overall Shipments

To date, five leading vendors account for around 70% of the total volume of tablet shipments.

Apple has been at the forefront of the world’s tablet market for several recent years. In 2012, the company’s share of the global tablet market was almost 60%, however, it declined remarkably since then owing to the increasing competition from other market players.  In Q2 2018, this vendor accounted for a share of 34.9% of the global tablet shipments, whilst in Q3 2018 its share declined to 26.6%. During 2017, this vendor shipped around 43.8 million tablets. Meantime, the company’s tablet shipments volume totaled some 30.3 million units during the Q1-Q3 2018.

The second leading vendor in the world’s tablet market, Samsung, commanded a share of 15.1% of the world’s total tablet shipments in Q1 2018 and a 14.6% share in Q2 2018. Moreover, the company’s share of the global tablet market increased twofold since 2012. During 2017, Samsung shipped nearly 25 million tablets. During Q1-Q3 2018, the vendor’s tablet shipments totaled appr. 15.6 million units.

World’s tablet shipments by vendor during Q1 2015 – Q3 2018 (in %) World’s tablet shipments by vendor during Q1 2015 – Q3 2018 (in %)

At present, Huawei is the third leading vendor in the global tablets market. However, Amazon is snapping at Huawei’s heels overtaking it in Q3 2018. Huawei shipped around 3.2 million tablets in Q1 2018 which is equal to about 10% of the overall number of tablets shipped globally in this quarter. In Q2 2018, Huawei shipped nearly 3.4 million tablets – appr. 10.3% of the world’s total shipments. Presently, APAC accounts for the bulk share of Huawei’s total tablet shipments volume, however, the company enjoys the surging interest in Europe.

TREND #4 Android OS Accounts for Bulk Share of Global Tablet Shipments

Android OS holds the lead in the world’s tablet market. It commanded a share of above 61% in the global shipments of tablets in 2017. However, Android’s share slightly declined during 2016-2017 – it was appr. 67.4% in the year 2015. In the years to come, Android OS is expected to account for the bulk share of the global tablet shipments in the foreseeable future, though its share is set to decline further.

iOS is the second leading tablet operating system. Last year, it accounted for appr. 25.6% of the world’s tablet shipments – up from 22.4% in 2016. iOS’s share in the tablet market is slated to demonstrate a moderate increase in the years ahead; in 2019, it may climb to 25.7%.

Structure of global tablet shipments by OS, during 2013-2019*

Structure of global tablet shipments by OS, during 2013-2019*

Meantime, Windows OS is gradually grabbing tablet market share from Android and iOS. In 2013, Windows accounted for just 3.5% of the overall tablet shipments, whilst in 2017 its share was slightly over 13%. Windows is anticipated to continue expanding its market share in the offing: in 2019, its share in global tablet shipments may exceed 17%.


The tablet market has seen several consecutive years of downturn, and the trajectory is not poised to change in the next few years, although the rate of shipments decline has slowed a bit. In the wake of the intensifying pressure on companies operating in this market, many have decided to pull out, as a result, top 5 vendors together grab a share of around 70% of the world’s tablet shipments. One of the key reasons to explain, why the tablet market is shrinking after such a promising start, is the ongoing innovation of the major substitute products (e.g., smartphones, phablets, laptops, etc.), which have adapted to changing consumer demands and, thus, present themselves as stronger alternatives to tablets for consumers.

© MarketPublishers.com, 2018

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