Tablet King Apple Slowly Losing Throne

Rusted Crown at SurflineApple. The king of the technology world. Or so it was…. Since the inception of the iPad, Apple has had a clear cut stranglehold on the tablet market. While many very worthy contenders have stepped up to dethrone the king, including Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Microsoft’s Surface, none have been able to overtake Apple and the iPad and claim the tablet throne for themselves. But are the tables finally turning on the Cupertino commander?

It would appear so. It seems that Apple is slowly losing its hold on the tablet market with the flagship iPad losing ground during Q2 of this year to tablets from Android and Windows developers. Total tablet shipments have decreased by 1.5% from Q1 even though IDC “believes the market will experience positive but slower growth in 2014 compared to the previous year.”

There were a total of 49.3 million tablets shipped around the world in Q2, an 11% increase compared to one year ago. Apple is still in the top spot, though other companies like Samsung, Lenovo and Asus are slowly acquiring more and more of the market share. Apple totaled 13.3 million tablet shipments, which was a 9.3% decline year over year, with Apple holding a 26.9% market share.

According to IDC Research Analyst Jitseh Ubrani, the tablet market is entering into a “new phase”, one in which smaller vendors are keeping pace with the bigger names and acquiring a more even piece of the market share. Both Apple and other analysts have attributed the decline in iPad sales to economically weak markets along with slow refreshes on tablets on the part of the users, who are holding on to devices much longer than they used to.

Apple struck a deal last week with IBM to jointly sell both the iPhone and iPad to big companies. Enterprise-specific tablet offerings are expected to be able to boost iPad sales in the second half of the year, according to Research Director for Tablets at IDC Philippe Bouchard.

By far the biggest threat to Apple’s dominance is Samsung. Samsung managed to move 8.5 million tablets during the second quarter, which raised its market share by 1.6% year over year. Lenovo came in third with shipments increasing by 64% year over year to 2.4 million units, which subsequently knocked Asus into fourth place. Asus totaled 2.3 million units, which was a 13.1% increase year over year. The only Top 5 company to see a decline was Acer, which dropped by 36.3%.

The group known as “other companies” managed to outpace the top 5 companies combined when it comes to market share growth. This group includes companies like Google, Amazon and other no-name vendors that sell unbranded tablets at low prices. The shipments of low-cost Android tablets increased in developing countries and has also been instrumental in driving down the prices of tablets.

While these numbers may seem minimal to some, they are definitely a cause for worry to Apple. As the ultimate leader in the tablet market for so long, (essentially starting the market when you think of it) it would be strange for Apple to not be on top anymore, though that might not necessarily be a bad thing. If Apple loses the top spot then a new wave of competition could start, fueling tablet technology to get better and better.

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