Data from Strategy Analytics released on Wednesday revealed that generic tablets, or “Brand X” slates as they’re often called, combined to out-ship both the iPad and Samsung-branded tablets in 2014. This marked the first time that generics outdid the two leaders in the tablet space in terms of year-end shipments.
The report shows that generic tablet suppliers rebranding their tablet computers under different names had shipped about 70 million tablets in 2014. That was good for 29 percent of the broader tablet market worldwide. However, Apple was still ranked as the leading global brand with a total market share of 26 percent, while Samsung came in at second place at 17 percent. According to Strategy Analytics senior analyst Eric Smith, generics proved to be popular as it’s “pretty easy to find the deals,” which means getting a data plan with a free tablet.
Indeed, the primary takeaway was the growing primacy of budget-priced “Brand X” tablets, which are surprisingly popular these days, especially among consumers from emerging markets, where merely owning a tablet would suffice, never mind that it is far from being as fundamentally sound as an iPad or a Galaxy Tab. Aside from emerging markets, generic tablet manufacturers also ship promotional hardware for rebranding, in partnership with U.S. carriers. Examples would include the tablets traditionally sold for less than $100 in retailers’ Black Friday deals. Still, it also must be pointed out that the statistics on the Strategy Analytics report pertain to tablet shipments, and not sales – shipments refer to tablets shipped to retailers and carriers, while sales are the tablets customers purchase.
Another takeaway from the Strategy Analytics report was how it corroborated the iPad’s seeming regression as it struggles to retain its dominant spot as the world’s most popular tablet. In the fourth calendar quarter of 2014, Apple’s iPad sales were at a combined 21.4 million units, regardless of version; this is down 18 percent from iPad sales in Q4 2013. Due to this drop in sales, Apple’s revenue came in 22 percent lower year-over-year, with Apple earning $9 billion as opposed to $11.5 billion in the year-ago fourth quarter.
Despite the iPad’s loss of popularity among buyers, it is still the leading tablet in the world and that was something Apple CEO Tim Cook stressed during the last quarterly earnings call. According to Cook, the iPad still has “a bright future” in the tablet space, and the numbers, while currently down, are likely to stabilize soon. He also cited a separate set of stats from Chitika Research, claiming that iPad users still take up 70 percent of all web traffic from tablets in North America. But in relation to Strategy Analytics’ stats, that only shows that inexpensive generics are considerably less popular in America and Canada than they are in other markets.
As for Apple’s tablet plans going forward, numerous reports have pointed to a device unofficially known as the “iPad Pro,” a giant-sized tablet believed to have a screen size of 12 to 13 inches. Still, there isn’t much known about the iPad Pro aside from its having a much bigger screen size than the full-sized, 9.7-inch iPad.