2-in-1s go from strength-to-strength while tablets ebb badly

Convertible growth is plowing ahead as predicted

Surface Pro 4

IDC recently predicted that 2016 would be a bad year for tablets and a good one for 2-in-1s, and that has definitely been borne out with the analyst company's latest figures for tablet shipments in Q1 2016.

The figures include convertibles like Microsoft's Surface range – which IDC prefers to refer to as detachable tablets – and these devices saw major gains hitting 4.9 million units shipped in the quarter, which represents triple digit year-on-year growth.

Total tablet sales amounted to 39.6 million units which was a big decline of 14.7% compared to the same period last year.

Of course, the majority of slates sold are still traditional tablets – 87.6% of them – but they're clearly on the wane compared to detachables, and perhaps most importantly, IDC observed that 2-in-1s are really taking hold of the premium end of the market where the profits are, while traditional slate tablets are becoming "synonymous with the low-end of the market".

IDC also observed that the detachables gold pot is now tempting 'mobile-first' vendors, pointing to the likes of Samsung and Huawei producing convertibles (TabPro S and MateBook respectively), and this will be an increasing trend from smartphone manufacturers. More innovative phone-detachable pairings are expected, too.

Preaching to the convertibles

Convertibles are also tempting folks away from traditional PCs such as your standard notebook. As senior research analyst with IDC Jitesh Ubrani noted: "Microsoft arguably created the market for detachable tablets with the launch of their Surface line of products. With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachables."

Ubrani also observed the iPad Pro was making a significant impact: "Apple's recent foray into this segment has garnered them an impressive lead in the short term, although continued long-term success may prove challenging as a higher entry price point staves off consumers and iOS has yet to prove its enterprise-readiness, leaving plenty of room for Microsoft and their hardware partners to reestablish themselves."

Apple, of course, continues to be the dominant force in tablets overall, holding a 25.9% market share, and IDC reckons the recent price drop on the iPad Air 2 will help to prompt upgrades from those with older iPads.

Samsung is in second place but considerably behind with a 15.2% share, and then Amazon, Lenovo and Huawei follow with 5.7%, 5.5% and 5.2% of the market respectively.

IDC previously predicted that detachable tablets will account for 30% of the slate market by the time we reach the end of the decade.

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