It may just be the start of the post-tablet era, with shipments into retailers and tech distributors tumbling by double digits in the first three months of the year.
According to stats for the UK from IDC, 1.7 million slabs were bundled into the channel during Q1, down 23.5 per cent on the same period in 2014.
Marta Fiorentini, senior European research analyst, told us that “slow consumer demand” dampened the entire market in Western Europe. The picture was slightly less gloomy across that region – shipments fell ten per cent to 9.54 million units.
Reasons include high penetration rates (roughly 40 per cent among Brits), people holding on to their devices for longer, and buyers spending their budgets on phablets and portable PCs, notably Windows with Bing.
No product refreshes were evident either, so buyers had no reason to put their hands in their pockets.
IDC doesn’t publicly rank the hardware makers, but told us that Android devices declined 37 per cent year-on-year (51 per cent market share), and iOS dropped 6.6 per cent (41 per cent market share).
Again, Windows outpaced the market, with units up 46.1 per cent, but market share remains comparatively low at eight per cent.
Businesses are buying tablets but not in any great volumes. The commercial segment grew 2.2 per cent year-on-year off a relatively small base. This is where Apple is putting a lot of its energies and where Microsoft’s Surface seems better suited.
Fiorentini said the "commercial segment shows a positive trend. However, its volume is still too low to offset consumer negative results and influence the overall market".
The main driver for enterprise tablet adoption is self-evidently “employee productivity, followed by customer-facing engagement”, she added.
IDC is working on sales forecasts for Blighty and was unable at this stage to go public with it, but warned that the trends in Q1 “are not expected to change”. ®