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Premium tablets being snapped up by enterprise buyers

Having predicted that one of the features of next year will be more commercial tablet sales IDC has backed that up with some data about what has been happening in Q3

Signs that the enterprise market was leading a resurgence in tablet spending emerged earlier this month as IDC predicted that because of the attractions of mobility the hardware would be a key area for investment by firms undergoing digital transformation in 2017.

Just a couple of weeks later and the analyst house has followed that prediction up with some hard data on the current state of the market, which underlines that the tablet is very much back in the boardroom.

Premium devices drove tablet growth in the third quarter, with IDC recording a 13.1% increase year-on-year in the commercial sector. Overall there were 8.2m tablets shipped in Western Europe in Q3, which represented a 6.7% decline on the same period last year.

Although volumes are dropping the unit value has held firm, which has offset the impact of the declines, as more customers pay for higher quality products. The share of detachables in Western Europe priced above €600 increased from 26.5% in 3Q15 to 52.2% a year later.

Detachables are proving to be particularly attractive to firms and the premium products that analysts like Canalys highlighted as growing in Q2, the Surface Pro and iPad Pro, are making up a lot of those sales.

"The offer available in the market continues to grow, along with enterprises' increasing interest in technologies that fit their mobile strategies. As a result detachables, particularly those with the performance and security to meet enterprise standards, are continuously gaining traction and this is boosting demand for premium devices," said Daniel Goncalves, research analyst, IDC Western European personal computing.

"Surface Pro and iPad Pro success comes from them being a notebook replacement, as well as the quality of the devices," he added "The devices are increasingly adopted across consumer and commercial segments, and while in the consumer segment both appeal to the 'prosumer' user, in commercial the adoption varies depending on the activities of the end user. iPad Pro is more popular for creative types of jobs, whereas Surface is more likely to be adopted by top executives, partly due to Windows' strong legacy in enterprise."

The vendors that dominate the market continue to be Apple, Samsung and Lenovo but Amazon has seen its unit growth increase year on year by 166.5% thanks to the very competitive pricing of its Kindle tablet range. 

Western European Q3 vendor rankings

3Q16 (Calendar Year) (000 Units)

Vendor

Unit Shipments 3Q15

Unit Shipments 3Q16

Unit % Share 3Q15

Unit % Share 3Q16

Unit Growth 3Q15 vs 3Q16

Apple

1,961

1,792

22.3%

21.9%

-8.6%

Samsung

2,105

1,676

24.0%

20.4%

-20.4%

Lenovo

620

620

7.1%

7.6%

0.0%

Acer Group

265

418

3.0%

5.1%

57.8%

Amazon.com

151

403

1.7%

4.9%

166.5%

Others

3,682

3,288

41.9%

40.1%

-10.7%

Total

8,785

8,197

100.00%

100.00%

-6.7%

Note: Tablets include slates and detachables. According to IDC's taxonomy, a detachable tablet — previously referred to by IDC as a 2-in-1 — is designed to function as a standalone slate/tablet as well as a clamshell device through the addition of a physical detachable keyboard, specifically designed for the given tablet.

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