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TrendForce Says Global Tablet Market Is at the Point of Recovery; Total Annual Shipments to Rise by 0.3% for 2018 After Four Years of Decline

The tablet market has undergone four consecutive years of downward correction from 2014 to 2017 and is showing signs of bottoming out. Latest analysis from TrendForce estimates that the global tablet shipments for 2017 will total around 148.9 million units, registering a more moderate drop of 5.4% compared with the 2016 result. Looking ahead to 2018, major tablet brands are expected to see their shipment declines ease. At the same time, Amazon, Huawei and other relatively new market entrants will continue in their rise. In sum, global shipments are projected to recover next year, rising by 0.3% annually to around 149.3 million units.

“Amazon, Huawei and other more recent market entrants are going to be the main contributors to tablet shipment growth next year,” said Kou-Han Tseng, TrendForce notebook analyst. “Amazon and Huawei want to maintain their 2018 target shipment growths at double digits. Also, Microsoft is planning to launch new Surface devices during the first half of 2018. Google too may return to the tablet market with offerings targeting the education segment. The arrival of new products from a growing number of brands will again spur tablet sales.”

Amazon and Huawei have been the most aggressive competitors and their shipments will continue to grow in 2018

Huawei’s impressive performance in the tablet market in the recent years is attributed to its flexibility in working with channel vendors on promotions. At the same time, Huawei has a large tablet portfolio with product lines targeting various groups of consumers and satisfying their diverse needs. Huawei’s total annual shipments are projected to top 10 million units this year and surpass Lenovo’s. Huawei is also expected to widen its lead over Lenovo in 2018 as the company continues its aggressive expansion into the tablet market with 50% shipment increase targeted for next year.

When Amazon first entered the tablet market, the company intended to sweep the market with low-price products. Over the years, Amazon has also greatly expanded its other service platforms and related ecosystems. Therefore, Amazon now pushes its branded tablets as primary devices for its members to access the company’s services. Furthermore, Amazon’s own branded smartphones (i.e. the Fire Phone series) have made very limited progress on the market, so the company has to raise the market penetration of its tablets to satisfy its members’ demand for resources in its ecosystems.

TrendForce’s research indicates that Amazon will again achieve a new record high for shipments of its Kindle Fire tablets this year, with the estimated total between 12 million and 13 million units. For 2018, Amazon is forecast to again grow its shipments by 5% to 10%.

The 9.7-inch economically priced iPad produces sweet results for Apple; next-year iPad shipments expected to remain high

As for iPad devices, the sales of the economically priced 9.7-inch model that was released this second quarter has been strong enough to allow Apple to retain its first place in the annual shipment ranking for 2017. Going forward, TrendForce expects Apple to be able to maintain comparable level of shipments in 2018 even if the company decides not to introduce a new size for the iPad series. Going forward, Apple plans to actively expand iPad’s presence in the education market. Furthermore, the 9.7-inch model could remain as a major shipment contributor in the coming year because Apple's attractive pricing for this model may trigger a wave of replacement for older iPads that cannot support iOS11.

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