Detachable Tablets Continue As Enterprises' Choice

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Sales of traditional slates continue to slip as the more productive detachable form factor finds favor with business users, according to an IDC report.

Android slates dominated tablet shipments during the second quarter, but IDC expressed concerns about the platform's future in the enterprise. Apple's iOS scored well with consumers and mobile pros, while Microsoft's Windows platform brought up the rear.

The overall market contracted some 12.3% year-over-year, with shipments totaling 38.7 million during the three month period ending in June, according to IDC. In a report released Monday, IDC said Android accounted for 65% of shipments. iOS followed with 26% and Windows scored just 9%. These platform percentages aren't too different from previous quarters, but IDC said there is some softness in sales of Android slates. Notably, companies that have historically made Android devices are beginning to offer Windows products.

Samsung and Huawei are two examples. Both companies delivered Windows-based products during the first half of the year. Previously, both concentrated their efforts on Android devices.

"The market has spoken as consumers and enterprises seek more productive form factors and operating systems -- it's the reason we're seeing continued growth in detachables," Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, said in a statement. "At present, it's difficult for Android to compete with iOS or Windows detachable products" in the enterprise.

iOS and Windows are better at multitasking, a key factor in aiding productivity. Microsoft's Surface-branded devices fall into the detachable category, as do the large and small iPad Pro tablets from Apple (since Apple sells a case/keyboard accessory).

Slates still account for more than three-quarters of tablet shipments, so the form factor isn't ready to die just yet. IDC says we can thank Amazon for the slate's success, as its Fire-branded tablets continue to score points with consumers.

"Vendors like Amazon, with a very focused approach to positioning, price, and purpose, managed to capture a considerable share of the market. Slate sales are declining but they still serve a purpose and will do so for a long time to come," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director, Tablets at IDC, in a statement.

[See 9 Detachable Tablets To Replace Your PC.]

Looking at individual hardware makers, Apple claimed the top spot again with shipments of 10 million. iPad sales have been in the decline for some time, but the more costly iPad Pros have helped raise the average selling price. Samsung is playing second fiddle to Apple with shipments of 6 million devices. IDC says its strategy of covering all price points and form factors helped Samsung keep Lenovo at bay, which primarily shows strength across Asia/Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Lenovo shipped about 2.5 million tablets. Huawei's Windows-based Matebook and its Android-based offerings together kept the company in fourth place with shipments of 2.2 million. Amazon rounded out the top five with shipments of 1.6 million.

Microsoft can be found under the "other" category. IDC didn't offer a breakdown of Windows versions in its analysis. It would be interesting to know how many Windows devices are shipping with Windows 10 compared to other variants, especially considering its lack of favor within many enterprises.

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