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Tablet boom quiets down a bit as growth slows

Apple not the only vendor seeing the market cool down

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The meteoric rise in tablet sales could be tapering off a bit as analysts at IDC saw quarterly shipments fall short of forecasts.

The research firm estimates that that while the market maintained positive growth over the same period last year, a number of top vendors saw both their shipment volumes and market shares take a hit over last year's levels.

Among the hardest hit was Apple. The Cupertino monolith had previously warned of a drop in sales from its iPad line as shipments were down from last year's quarter. According to IDC, the drop of 3.1 million units, to 16.4 million total, dragged Apple's total market share from 40.2 per cent to 32.5 per cent of all tablet shipments.

Samsung had no such worries. The Korean consumer electronics giant logged a 32 per cent year over year growth on the back of 11.2 million shipments. The company's 22.3 per cent share, up from 17.5 per cent last year, was good enough for second in the market behind Apple.

Lenovo also saw a jump in market as the company moved 2.1 million units, an increase of 224.3 per cent over 2013's tiny first quarter tally. The company remains fourth overall behind Asus, which saw a 2.8 per cent drop in shipments but still holds a 5 per cent market share, compared to Lenovo's 4.1 per cent.

The biggest hit in market share for the quarter was felt by Amazon. IDC said the Kindle maker saw a 47.1 per cent decline in its shipments, delivering just 1 million tablets last quarter and claiming a meager 1.9 per cent of the market.

The overall tablet numbers could suggest the end is approaching for the boom times in tablets. After years of soaring sales, analysts believe that the market may be settling a bit and leveling off, particularly in more developed markets.

"The rise of large-screen phones and consumers who are holding on to their existing tablets for ever longer periods of time were both contributing factors to a weaker-than-anticipated quarter for tablets and 2-in-1s," noted IDC devices and displays program vice persident Tom Mainelli.

"In addition, commercial growth has not been robust enough to offset the slowing of consumer shipments."

That slowdown may also come as a welcome bit of news for PC vendors who have consistently watched their market eroded quarter by quarter as more end users opted to trade in their notebooks and desktops for tablet systems.

A recent uptick in shipments thanks to the end of Windows XP was not enough to bring the market as a whole into the black, but still gave vendors reason to hope that the worst of the decline may be over.

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