The new $49 Fire tablet
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Study: Tablet shipments drop 12 percent as Apple and Samsung continue to dominate

The new $49 Fire tabletTablet shipments are down 12 percent from this time last year, continuing a trend of declining tablet sales overall, according to a new report from the IDC research firm.

Approximately 38.7 million tablets shipped in the second quarter of this year, according to the report. Apple at 10 million tablets and Samsung at 6 million led the way. Amazon grabbed the fifth spot, with 1.6 million tablets shipped.

Apple and Samsung saw their numbers decline over this time last year, dropping approximately 9 percent and 25 percent respectively. The other three companies in the top five — Lenovo, Huawei and Amazon — saw increases over last year.

Shipments of Amazon tablets increased 1,209 percent over last year, though IDC notes that is partly because its research previously didn’t count the six-inch Fire tablet. Amazon shot into the top five in the fourth quarter of last year, and has remained there since then.

Following its emergence as a big player in the tablet market, Amazon’s share of the market has declined over the last few quarters. In the fourth quarter of last year, Amazon held the number three spot with an 8 percent market share, and in the first quarter of this year its market share was 5.7 percent. In the latest quarter, Amazon only accounts for 4 percent of the tablet market.


This is not a new phenomenon for Amazon’s tablet lineup, which spikes in popularity during the holidays as many people buy entry-level tablets as gifts for friends and family, while choosing higher-end devices such as the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab for themselves during the rest of the year. The Fire has been called the “fruitcake of tablets” for this reason.

But Amazon may be here to stay as a major player in the tablet market. The low price of its tablets — starting at $50 — make it a unique option.

“Credit goes to Amazon as its performance this quarter has been reflective of the aptly named Fire tablets,” the report reads. “The low price combined with the company’s online presence has once again afforded Amazon a spot in the top 5 vendor list. Given the growing popularity of Amazon’s Prime Day Sale, it would not be surprising if Amazon performs similarly in the next quarter.”

The low price is part of a strategy that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has called “the Amazon Doctrine.” The company views tablets and other devices less as end products and more as channels for users to access and buy content and products from Amazon. “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices,” Bezos explained at a 2012 news conference.

IDC says about 65 percent of tablets shipped in the second quarter run Android operating systems, 26 percent run iOS and the rest are on Windows.

Conspicuously absent from the top five is Microsoft. Linn Huang, research director of devices and displays for IDC, said Microsoft has never made its top five for the tablet market. For some time Microsoft held the biggest market share of high end detachable tablets. That market is growing, but it’s small, accounting for only 13 percent of tablets shipped in the first quarter of 2016. Apple overtook Microsoft in the detachable market with the release of the iPad Pro in late last year, and hasn’t given up that lead.

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