Then in the fourth quarter of 2014, IDC announced an actual decline of 3.2% over the same quarter of 2013, dropping to 76.1 million tablets shipped, from 78.6 million. A second quarterly decline was again reported for the first quarter of 2015, but IDC didn't release actual figures for the first quarter.
For all of 2015, Bouchard said tablet shipments will fall globally over 2014 by 3.8% (including 2-in-1's), a trend that will continue at least for the next four years. "Tablet shipments are decreasing gradually through 2019 and every year is smaller than the previous one -- in the single digits," Bouchard predicted.
Apple's iPad got hurt by its own success with the release last fall of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both which are larger smartphones, with displays of 4.7-in. and 5.5-in., respectively. IDC and various analysts last year noticed that larger smartphones, especially those out previously from Samsung, were cannibalizing sales of smaller tablets with displays in the 7-in. to 8-in. range.
For all of 2014, Apple's iPad shipments declined 15%, to 63.4 to million from 74.3 million in 2013, IDC reported in February. Number 2 Samsung held about even for 2014, at 40.2 million shipped -- a 1% increase over the 39.7 million shipped in 2013.
Smaller tablets under 8-in. will drop from 64% of the market in 2014 to 58% in 2015 and then to just under 50% by 2019, IDC said. "This illustrates the direct impact phablets [large smartphones over 5 in.] are having on the market, as users with larger-screen smartphones have tended to have less need for a tablet with a screen size comparable to their smartphone," Reith said.
Bouchard and Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar WorldPanel, said even smartwatches like the Apple Watch have cut into the total disposable income consumers have for buying Apple devices. "If you think about Apple, and the same goes for the lower-end Android [market], consumers could pretty much spend the same money on a smartwatch or a tablet...and consumers might find that money hard to justify over a smartwatch," Milanesi said.
Another factor in the decline of tablet shipments is that users simply keep them two or three years, or longer, and can usually update to a newer version of the operating system on the older device, which makes getting a new tablet far less important, Bouchard noted.
In addition to growth in 2-in-1s, Bouchard noted that manufacturers are now trying to sell tablets with cellular connections (not just Wi-Fi) or by increasing the display size of the tablet.
IDC didn't share the size of the 2-in-1 market in its latest forecast, but called it a "small portion" of the overall tablet market and said that 2-in-1's combined with cellular-ready tablets will grow by 5.6% annually in the next five years.
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