The market research firm IDC just released its latest numbers for the worldwide tablet market, and there is a lot of interesting data about how post-PC devices are doing in the market.
First, you should know that despite the holiday season, the worldwide tablet market declined again in Q4 2015 with 65.9 million units shipped, down -13.7% year over year. In 2015, total tablets shipments were 206.8 million, down -10.1% from 230.1 million in the prior year.
While global tablets shipments arguably tanked in 2015, IDC put an explicit emphasis in its report on the fast growth of detachable tablets, as their shipments more than doubled in the fourth quarter of last year, reaching an all-time high of 8.1 million devices shipped in 2015.
In fact, Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets, explained: "One of the biggest reasons why detachables are growing so fast is because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements". In this detachables market segment, it's obviously an iPad Pro vs. Surface Pro world, "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", continued Bouchard.
So Apple has been able to sell more iPads Pros than Microsoft sold Surfaces during last quarter, but that's not surprising as the company benefits from strong marketing and sales channels. But like the Apple Watch before it, we'll see if the iPad Pro can keep its momentum for the coming months.
However, if Apple and Microsoft are pushing forward detachable tablets, what about Google and Android tablets? Well, according to Bouchard, "Google's recent foray into this space has been rather lackluster as the Android platform will require a lot more refinement to achieve any measurable success".
It's debatable whether Windows 10 is a better OS for detachable tablets, we clearly think it gives more choice and flexibility to consumers, but let's not underestimate the competition, folks! We'll see if Microsoft can catch up to iPad Pro sales in the upcoming quarters.