Supply chain
Digitimes Research: Global tablet shipments to drop less than 5% in 2016 thanks to large-size models
Jim Hsiao, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei

Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface 2-in-1 devices are expected to boost demand for large-size tablets, partly offsetting the shipment declines in small-size segments. This will result in global tablet shipments dropping only 4.8% on year to reach 196 million units in 2016.

After suffering from over 10% on-year declines for two consecutive years, iPad shipments are expected to grow slightly to reach 46.6 million units in 2016 thanks to the growth of the iPad Pro and the upcoming third-generation iPad Air, according to Digitimes Research's latest report on the tablet market in 2016.

China-based white-box players will gradually be forced out the tablet market as their profits continue declining. A lack of differentiation among white-box devices and increasing competition from brand vendors who have also adopted solutions similar to those of white-box players from China's supply chain to save costs will undermine white-box players' combined shipments, which are expected to drop 9.5% on year to reach 68.4 million units in 2016.

Apple will remain the largest tablet brand vendor worldwide in 2016, followed by Samsung Electronics in second place and Lenovo in third. Samsung's shipments will drop below 30 million units and see an on-year drop higher than the market average in 2016 due its conservative business strategy.

Lenovo's tablet shipments will also drop dramatically in the year as the vendor is shifting its focus to the large-size smartphone. Microsoft's tablet shipments will reach 5.6 million units in 2016 to occupy the fourth place, thanks to expansion in its Surface 2-in-1 product line. Amazon will come in fifth.

Asustek Computer, which will end the year 2015 in fourth place, will drop to sixth in 2016. But if its tablet orders from Google are taken in account, Asustek will still be able to remain at number four in 2016.

In terms of display sizes, over 10-inch models are expected to grow over 20% on year to reach more than 30 million units in 2016 because of the popularity of the iPad Pro and Surface 2-in-1. The size segment's share of the overall tablet shipments will surpass 20%.

With Apple turning its focus back to 9.7-inch iPad models, the 9-inch segment's shipments will only see a slight drop from 2015, while the shipments ito the 7-inch segment will see a much larger drop due to brand vendors looking to create differentiation and profits.

As for ODMs, the iPad series tablets are all manufactured by Taiwan makers. There will be slight on-year growth for Windows 2-in-1 devices, which will mostly be made by Taiwan makers. Taiwan ODMs' combined shipments in 2016 are expected to remain at a level similar to that of 2015.

Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry), the largest tablet ODM, will see a small growth in 2016 because of iPad Pro. Compal Electronics, the second largest, will see shipments decline because Amazon has shifted some orders to China makers. Pegatron Technology will remain stably in number three because of Surface 2-in-1 products.

This article is an excerpt from a Digitimes Research Special Report (Global tablet shipment forecast, 2016). Visit our latest Special reports.

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