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Tablet Sales Are Booming -- If We Don't Count Apple and Samsung


The tablet industry is under significant pressure that won't abate any time soon.

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Tablet industry growth ticked up in Q2 of 2014, according to IDC's latest industry report.

But read between the lines and you'll see this market is troubled.

Following Q1's middling 3.9% increase, growth improved to 11% in Q2, primarily due to an easier comparison.

Q1 2014 comped against Q1 2013's 142.4% growth rate, while Q2 2014 was up against a much easier 59.6%. (check the first chart below)

Here are the results by manufacturer:

Excluding Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which saw iPad sales drop 9.3% year-over-year, unit shipments grew a solid 21%.

Samsung, as it has been telegraphing [subscription required], hit the wall, with unit shipments rising just 1.6%, a substantial decline from Q1's 32% growth.

If we back out both Apple and Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), which are relatively high-end vendors, sales increased by 28.5%, which supports the idea that the tablet industry is more of a bargain bin than a hot growth pocket within tech.

It's worth asking: if it wasn't for the never-ending flood of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android models, many of which offer amazing bang for the buck, how bad would things be?

Fundamentally, the tablet market remains challenged by the rise of big-screen smartphones (a.k.a. phablets) -- a situation that will only get worse with the release of Apple's iPhone 6, which is widely expected to have a larger screen, possibly 5.5".

Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets, also identified "slow commercial adoptions of tablets" as an issue, albeit one that could be rectified by more enterprise-specific offerings, such as in the Apple/IBM (NYSE:IBM) deal.

However, that's a multi-year evolutionary process, not something that will play out next quarter.

To avoid being too gloomy, I'll add that this year's weak numbers will make for easy year-over-year comps next year, and they do give incentives for device makers to push harder in new markets like wearables, which as of now have been mostly disappointing.

Twitter: @MichaelComeau

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