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Samsung, Apple dominate tablet market as shipments plunge

Amazon's shipments of tablets grew four-fold in the third quarter as the overall market plunged, but Apple and Samsung held their position at the top, according to a new report.

The worldwide tablet market continued to stay sluggish with vendors shipping 43 million units in the three months to the end of September, down 14.7 percent year-on-year, according to research from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

But Amazon bucked the trend, shipping 3.1 million units, up from 800,000 a year ago, representing a 319.9 percent surge. The e-commerce giant is the third-largest tablet vendor with 7.3 percent market share.

It's important to note that Amazon is coming off a low base and IDC did not include the 6-inch version of its Fire tablet in the third quarter of 2015 as it did not meet the study's criteria at the time. This helped it gain the unprecedented year-on-year growth as it was counted this year. The company was helped by a Prime Day sale in early July.

"The already low-priced device was offered at a 30 percent discount then, and continued to remain popular throughout the rest of the quarter. The new Fire HD 8 released in early October will likely perform well in the holiday quarter as it follows Amazon's strategy of selling low-cost tablets as a gateway and companion to its ecosystem," IDC said in its report.

Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet computers in a variety of colors are displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015.
Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet computers in a variety of colors are displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015.

But Amazon still trails Apple and Samsung which continue to dominate, despite seeing declines. Apple's iPad shipments fell 6.2 percent to 9.3 million in the third quarter, giving it a market share of 21.5 percent.

Samsung saw shipments fall 19.3 percent to 6.5 million in the third quarter. Market share stood at 15.1 percent. IDC analysts said the recall of the combustible Note 7 did not seem to have an effect on the company's tablet sales but the company has wider problems.

"Fortunately, the negative press from the Note 7 did not bleed over into its tablet business. However, overreliance on the declining slate market led to a decline of 19.3 percent compared to 3Q15. Samsung's attempt to enter the detachable market with its TabPro S at the beginning of 2016 seems to have taken a backseat as its price and positioning remain uncompetitive," IDC said.

A slate tablet is a device that is controlled by touching the screen. "Detachable" tablets are those that come with keyboards, such as Samsung's TabPro S or Apple's iPad Pro. Apple's shipments declined less than the overall market.

"Despite Apple's marketing push for the iPad Pro, the iPad Air and Mini lines have been the models with mass appeal, accounting for more than two-thirds of its shipments this quarter. Although Apple's tablet shipments declined 6.2 percent year over year, total iPad-related revenues were flat for the quarter, thanks to the iPad Pro offering," IDC said.