Tablet shipments slipped 10% in 2015 but iPad Pro and Surface Pro growing ‘detachable’ market

Tablets are an odd story in the technology world. When Apple first released the iPad, it was seen as a huge success, and grew even faster than the iPhone did at launch.

Fast forward a few years and growth has stopped, with sales actually falling relative to previous years. It remains to be seen exactly whether replacement just takes longer with tablets when compared to smartphones, but the recent decline is nevertheless a cause for concern.

A new report from IDC indicates that while overall tablet sales declined by over 10 percent in 2015, detachable tablets, like the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface, rose to an all-time high. The two biggest sellers of tablets, Apple and Samsung respectively, both lost ground, but managed to retain their one-two positions. The biggest surprise of the year was Amazon. The company’s affordable tablets were able to keep the company in third place in shipments, with 175 percent year-over-year growth.

With detachable tablets gaining ground while older-style ‘slate’ tablets continue to slump, performance is quickly becoming an important feature, as many modern tablets are being sold as computer replacements. While Apple and Microsoft have both experienced positive results with the iPad Pro and Surface Pro, it seems clear that Google needs to step up its Android tablet offerings if the company wants to compete. The Pixel C, released late last year, disappointed in this regard.

Rounding out the top five, Lenovo and Huawei both have a reasonable outlook for 2016. Lenovo’s tablet sales shrank last year, but the company has been investing in laptop technology and should be able to offer a reasonable tablet experience in 2016. Huawei, on the other hand, grew by 126 percent, and is looking to continue expanding into new global markets this year.