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    Tough times in the global market for digital tablets


    Global sales in tablet computers had a poor fourth quarter. It declined slightly while “phablets” (large smartphones) increased their market share, according to estimates released on Monday by two research firms. According to IDC, worldwide tablet sales fell for the first time since the creation of the market in 2010, with the release of the first Apple iPad. The firm estimates a decline of 3.2%, with 76.1 million units sold. Another firm, Strategy Analytics, is a bit more optimistic with an estimated 78.3 million units sold, representing a meager 1% increase.

    After a flying start, with growth in sales of two and even three digits, the tablet market recorded a marked slowdown for several quarters. Apple kept the position as world leader in the fourth quarter, with a market share of 28.1% according to IDC and 27% according to Strategy Analytics, but their iPad sales decreased 18% year on year. Both firms predict fierce competition for iPad, including the largest so-called smartphones “phablets”, a category which also fits the latest iPhone 6+ by Apple. South Korea’s Samsung retained, according to IDC, the second position during the fourth quarter, with a 14.5% market share, followed by China’s Lenovo (4.8%) and Asus Taiwan (4%).

    Over the whole of 2014, global sales of tablets showed a small increase of 4.4% to 229.6 million units, following growth of 50.6% in 2013, according to IDC.

    Jonadav Apelblat
    Business and Technology Editor
    The Brussels Times