Amazon Kindle tablet shipments crater, down 70% in holiday quarter

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


    1. I agree. The iPad rules!

      I read a lot of ebooks, many downloaded from Amazon. When indoors, I prefer reading them on my iPad Air.

      But outdoors on a sunny day it’s difficult to read on an iPad. I preordered the Kindle Voyage and received it before the advertised delivery date. Had to download and install a software update before it became usable, but when that had been done, it works beautifully, with a clear, very readable display outdoors. (Wouldn’t recommend the Fire for that purpose and the Fire can’t compete with the iPad.)

      The Kindle Voyage is “just” an ebook reader and isn’t as versatile as an iPad. With the equivalent in display resolution to Retina, text and graphics (B&W) are clear indoors or outdoors, controls and ergonomics are OK, it’s small, light and has long battery life.

      I’m satisfied by the Voyage as an ebook reader, especially outdoors on a sunny day, where it’s easier to read than on an iPad (or Kindle Fire). At the same time, I’m not surprised by the drop in sales of Kindle devices. Overall, the iPad rules.

  1. Huh. Again with the “shipments”. But I guess that’s the only way the other vendors can even stay in sight of Apple.

    I wonder what the table would look like if the metric was “actual sales”? 😉

    1. IDC reports shipments because the only sources of data are manufactures. Since Apple goes direct and not distribution, there shipment numbers are same as sales numbers. But other consumer electronic companies rely on distribution. Thus to get apples to apples, these type of share numbers are always in shipments. Those of us who work in the industry all have ratios that we apply to shipment numbers to estimate end-user sales but would never share that information in public.

      1. Thank you. You’ve just reinforced my point. Without context, those tables give you the impression the other vendors are keeping up with Apple. The reality is different.

        So: units are “shipped” but not necessarily sold. So that Market Share % means… What? Disciples of the Church of Market Share believe market share is important because it means more people are using Android, hence more users = more money for everyone involved in Android, from the manufacturers to app developers etc. and Apple will fade into irrelevance.

        But the REALITY is different. So what’s the point of these tables beyond giving out a false picture?

  2. I have both an iPad and an Amazon Fire HD.

    The iPad is the cream of the crop but for the money the Fire HD is a solid little tablet.

    I’d buy another of both without question.

  3. That is a huge drop in sales but to be fair IDC did leave out the new 6 inch form factor. I doubt that include that will make up the numbers.
    So despite the decreases unit sales, Apple still top the pile. The whole market is down and probably due to every man and his dog buying an iPhone over Christmas.

  4. Our company just replaced four iPad 3 with iPad Air 2 ….

    We wouldn’t even replace those except for we needed the airplay feature which is not available on generation three iPads even our generation one iPad’s are still going as we passed down to the family members.

    The darn iPad is so well built it just keeps going and going and going and you when you add in the Apple $99 battery replacement future they keep going!

  5. Why do we still bother paying attention to IDC’s bullsh*t? I thought Daniel Eran Dilger has pretty well established just how completely full of crap they are.


  6. IDC adds in 31% growth in the “Other” category that includes a host of almost impossible to find white box tablets that are little more than toys. These numbers are essentially pulled out of IDC’s collective hiney to get what ever result they are paid to report. They use “shipped” because only Apple reports actual sales into the hands of end users, while ever single one of the other makers that does any kind of reporting, a small minority, reports shipments into the marketing stream. . . and a lot of those will wind up in remainders to eventually be found discount bins a year from now, unsold to users.

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