Windows tablets are selling up a storm as 2-in-1s lead the charge

The latest figures on the overall tablet market from Strategy Analytics paint a familiar gloomy picture, but it’s not all bad news, particularly for Windows tablets which have enjoyed a big rush of adoption – with hybrids like the Surface proving very popular as has been previously predicted, and Apple’s iPad Pro convertible managing to help stem the bleeding from its slate sales.

According to figures for Q3, tablet shipments hit 46.6 million units worldwide, which was down 10% compared to the same quarter last year, and 1% down on Q2 2016.

But the big success story was Windows slates which stormed up to capture 16% of the market, representing major growth of 25% year-on-year. Most of the turf they swallowed was Android territory, with tablets powered by Google’s OS dropping to just under 65% market share.

From entertainment to computing  

That’s still the lion’s share, of course, but as Strategy Analytics observed, this is indicative of a shift away from tablets as pure entertainment devices, towards their usage as an everyday computing device.

Peter King, Service Director, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies, commented: “Microsoft has led a transformation in the tablet market with its Surface Pro and Surface Book. Apple is now reliant on iPad Pro for tablet and laptop replacement, while many other PC OEMs abandon Android Slates in favour of more expensive 2-in-1 Windows Tablets for better productivity and versatility.”

Ah yes, Apple – the third prong of the market, iOS tablets, dipped 6% compared to the third quarter last year, but as the overall market slipped more (by 10% as mentioned), iOS actually increased its market share slightly to 19.9% (up 0.8%). Of course, Apple remains the leading tablet vendor (followed by Samsung a fair way behind on 14.1%).

Strategy Analytics said that Apple’s newest slate, the iPad Pro, was helping to put the company on the “path to recovery” with its price trending 6% higher year-on-year.

Indeed, while the overall number of tablets sold shrank by a tenth, average selling prices across the market increased by 7% due to more manufacturers making hybrid 2-in-1 devices which can command a greater premium. Expect this trend towards convertibles to continue.

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).