The final months of 2016 marked the ninth consecutive quarter of declining tablet shipments, reported IT analyst group IDC today.
Vendors shipped just 52.9 million tablets in the fourth quarter of 2016 (4Q16) worldwide, a 20 percent year-over-year decline. For the full year, shipments totaled 174.8 million, or a 15.6 percent drop compared to 2015.
Ryan Reith, program vice president at IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, noted that the sentiment surrounding "the tablet market continues to grow stale despite a lot of talk about vendors pivoting their product portfolios toward the detachable segment," in a statement.
The standalone tablet's heyday appears to have come and gone.
"Typical tablets without a dedicated keyboard, which IDC refers to as slate tablets, are continuing to lose relevancy across all regions and, as a result, we see the decline happening globally," Reith added.
Among the top five tablet vendors, Apple suffered the most with a nearly 19 percent annual decline in iPad shipments. The Cupertino, Calif. device maker shipped 12 million examples of its iconic tablet during 4Q16 compared to 16 million a year prior. Despite this, the company clings to nearly 25 percent of the market, enough to maintain its leading position.
Second-place Samsung saw its shipments of its Android-based tablets shipments drop to 8 million units, an 11.4 percent drop-off. Amazon took third place with 5.2 million Fire tablets shipped, a slight 0.6 percent decline.
Rounding out the top five are Lenovo and Huawei. Both Chinese electronics makers shipped over 3 million tablets and posted gains of nearly 15 percent for fourth-place Lenovo and 43.5 percent for Huawei.
IDC's Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with the firm's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers practice, noted that even detachable tablets like those offered by Microsoft and Apple are starting to lose their luster.
"The market continues to warm up to two-in-one devices, but we're now getting to a point where the price and performance disparity between detachables and convertibles has started to narrow, and this added competition led to a dampening in the growth of detachable tablets," said Ubrani in a statement. "However, we expect this to be temporary as only two of the three major platforms have any significant hardware presence in the detachable market, and as the ecosystems are further refined with future updates and developer support."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.