Despite the holiday season, the worldwide tablet market declined yet again in the fourth quarter of 2015 (4Q15) with 65.9 million units shipped, down 13.7 percent year-over-year, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Total shipments for 2015 were 206.8 million, down 10.1 percent from 230.1 million in the prior year. Despite the market's negative trajectory overall, shipments for detachable tablets reached an all-time high of 8.1 million devices.

The transition toward detachable devices appears to be in full swing as pure slate tablets experienced their greatest annual decline to date of 21.1 percent. On the other hand, detachable tablets more than doubled their shipments since the fourth quarter of last year.

Tablet Vendor Highlights

Apple's reign as the market leader continued in 4Q15 though the company faced a 24.8 percent year-over-year decline. With the successful launch of iPad Pro, the company was able to curb the decline in iPad revenues as its model mix shifted toward higher-priced iPads.

Samsung managed to keep its second position in the market though it did decline by 18.1 percent compared to last year. Samsung is the vendor with the deepest tablet portfolio and manages to reach multiple price points and screen sizes, a position that will facilitate the transition to detachables in 2016.

Amazon's latest Kindle iteration piqued everyone's interest with its low price point, allowing Amazon's annual growth to reach 175.7 percent, the highest amongst the top five. Amazon's success in the tablet market has thus far been based purely on price. While this bodes well during the holiday season, it is unlikely the Kindle's success will continue in the remainder of the year.

Lenovo maintained its market share in the last quarter of 2015, shipping 3.2 million units for a 13.5 percent decline over the same period last year. However, the Yoga, MIIX, and Thinkpad brand's combined traditional PC Savoir Faire should help Lenovo regain market share in 2016.

Huawei's focus remains on cellular-connected tablets and international expansion. The company has positioned itself well in the adjacent smartphone market and its popularity is likely to bleed over into the tablet market.

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