Getting attached to detachables

Surface Book image 3

Well look at what we have here, another quarter of declining tablet shipments while detachable 2-in-1 devices reached an all-time high, according to data released by International Data Corporation (IDC).

This is notable on a number of levels. First, long time Maximum PC readers might remember a time when analysts were infatuated with rising tablet shipments. They blamed tablets for declining PC sales and pretty much predicted that tablets were the future. Wrong.

Secondly, it was barely three weeks ago when IDC reported a 10.6 percent year-on-year decline in PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2015, noting it was the largest year-on-year drop in the history of PCs. However, IDC’s figures didn’t include 2-in-1 PC shipments—they’re tallied separately and would have added 6 percentage points to the fourth quarter total and 3 percentage points to the full year.

In any event, it’s nice to see IDC acknowledging the market for 2-in-1 devices, which is comparatively small to traditional PCs but quickly growing.

“One of the biggest reasons why detachables are growing so fast is because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets at IDC. “We believe Apple sold just over two million iPad Pros while Microsoft sold around 1.6 million Surface devices, a majority of which were Surface Pro and not the more affordable Surface 3. With these results, it’s clear that price is not the most important feature considered when acquiring a detachable – performance is.”

That might be overstating things a bit. Lest we get too excited about 2-in-1 devices, IDC isn’t talking about hundreds of millions or even tens of millions of shipments, but 8.1 million units. And then there’s the debate of whether or not an iPad Pro qualifies as a 2-in-1 dectachable.

As for tablets in general, despite the holiday season, the tablet market tablet again in the fourth quarter of 2015 with 65.9 million units shipped, down 13.7 percent year-over-year.

“The transition towards detachable devices appears to be in full swing as pure slate tablets experienced their greatest annual decline to date of -21.1%. On the other hand, detachable tablets more than doubled their shipments since the fourth quarter of last year,” IDC said.

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