Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market’s inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2% growth, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 increased 4.4%, totaling 229.6 million units.

“The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, in a statement. “Although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn’t enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones. Meanwhile, Samsung’s struggles continued as low-cost vendors are quickly proving that mid- to high-priced Android tablets simply aren’t cut out for today’s tablet market.”

Apple’s lead over other vendors has yet to be truly challenged as it shipped 21.4 million tablets, accounting for over a quarter of the market with 28.1% volume share. Despite Samsung’s woes, it managed to hold on to the second place with 11 million units shipped. Lenovo (4.8%), ASUS (4%), and Amazon (2.3%) rounded out the top 5 although only Lenovo managed to grow annually when compared to Q4 2013. Lenovo maintained its tight grip on the Asia/Pacific market thanks to its massive scale in the PC business and the success of its low-cost tablet offerings.

“Despite an apparent slow-down of the market, we maintain our forecast about tablet growth in 2015,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets, in a statement. “Microsoft’s new OS, a general shift towards larger screen form factor and productivity focused solutions, and technology innovations such as gesture interface that could be introduced in tablets will help the market maintain positive growth in 2015.”

Amazon recorded the steepest annual volume decline among the top five vendors. Despite a product refresh at the end of September with their Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, and the introduction of a low-end 6-inch Fire HD (excluded from our numbers given the small screen size does not match IDC’s definition of a tablet) and 7-inch Fire HD, holiday sales declined nearly -70% compared to last year.

Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, Fourth Quarter 2014 (Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)
IDC: Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, Fourth Quarter 2014 (Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)

Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, Calendar Year 2014 (Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)
IDC: Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, Calendar Year 2014 (Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, February 2, 2015