Tablets are more unpopular than ever – except for Windows slates

Surface Pro 4

Another set of figures on the tablet market has emerged showing a downward plunge in numbers of units shipped, with the final quarter of 2015 witnessing the worst year-on-year decline that Strategy Analytics has seen.

The company's 'Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share by Operating System: Q4 2015' report estimates that tablet shipment numbers fell to 69.9 million units in Q4, which is a record drop of 11%. Over the full year of 2015, shipments reached 224 million units which represented a drop of 8%.

That's similar to the negative figures we recently saw from TrendForce, although that firm estimated a bigger drop over the course of the full year with a 12.2% decline compared to 2014's shipment numbers.

Whichever way you cut it, this isn't good news for tablet vendors – although Strategy Analytics did find a bright spot with Microsoft. Yes, Windows tablets witnessed growth of 59% in Q4 compared to the previous year, a very impressive figure which again tallies with what TrendForce observed.

And as a few reports in recent times have also pinpointed, convertible 2-in-1 PCs are seeing major traction right now, and Strategy Analytics observed a huge 379% leap in year-on-year growth in Q4 2015.

Attack of the Surface clones

Eric Smith, Senior Analyst, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, commented: "2-in-1 Detachable Tablets have reached an inflection point in 2015 as computing needs continue to trend more and more mobile and Tablets with Windows 10 can compete against iOS in the premium and high price bands and equally well against Android in the mid and lower price bands.

"The Q4 2015 launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book was met with many 'Surface clones' by Microsoft's OEM partners at lower price points. This variety of devices will bolster momentum of Windows Tablets going forward."

As for overall market share, Apple was of course the top tablet vendor with a share of 23.1% in Q4 of last year – falling heavily from 27.3% the previous year. Cupertino's shipment numbers dropped from 21.4 million units to 16.1 million units this year.

Samsung was in second place with a 12.9% market share, down from 13.9% the previous year. Lenovo bucked the trend and saw growth in third place with an increase from 4.7% to a 5.7% share in Q4 2015, with Amazon slipping to fourth place, dropping from 4.9% to 4.4%.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).