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Apple and the iPad are defying the odds in an ailing tablet market

Apple and Lenovo were the only two companies in the top five tablet vendors to record year-on-year growth in Q4 of 2019. 

Across the whole of 2019, Apple grew as a tablet seller by 15.2% year-on-year. Figures and analysis from IDC show that the US tech giant bucked the market trend where, otherwise, there is a distinct feeling that new tablets are becoming a hard sell.

Related: Best tablets

Slate tablet shipments from Apple declined sharply as the market made a concerted move towards detachable and hybrid tablet devices. All of Apple’s latest tablet devices are best suited to being used alongside a keyboard and these have remained popular, at least in comparison to the older slate tablet format.

The latest iPad, the iPad Air 2019, launched in Q4 of 2019 and accounted for almost 65% of Apple’s shipments, driving an increase in market share.

It’s the breakdown of that market share that shows the real landscape for tablet sellers. Apple’s 34.6% share of the tablet market clearly displays the company’s dominant position in the field. Of the top five tablet sellers, only Samsung can hold a candle to that figure, registering a 15.1% share of the market in 2019.

Lenovo registered year on year growth in Q4 of 2019, but across the year as a whole the company’s year-on-year growth was negative, at -4.2%.

Lenovo is one of the companies that’s most keen to blur the line between laptop and tablet. It recent foldable PC concept, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, did just that. Our reviewers were unsure if the product will ultimately be a gimmick or an interesting halfway house between tablets and PCs, but it shows Lenovo has aspirations in the field.

One trend in particular suggests that the popularity of tablets is reducing.

Tablet sales by ‘others’ (i.e. any seller outside the top five tablet vendors) dropped from 44.3 million in 2018, to 37 million in 2019. That’s quite a notable slowdown and samples sales across a range of brands, albeit not leading ones.

Image credit: IDC

Another interesting note is that, across the year as a whole, Amazon’s tablet sales grew by about 10%. However, for the Q4 period, the company’s year-on-year tablet sales receded significantly, down 29%.

Amazon’s tablet sales are driven by the Amazon Fire tablet, which is a low-price, basic, slate-style tablet. While these are currently less fashionable than hybrid and detachable style tablets, the low price point seems to have generated interest.

Related: Best iPad

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