Anticipation of new iPads hurt Apple Q3 tablet sales

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iPad outsells every notebook maker.
iPad outsells every notebook maker.
Photo: Apple

Apple saw a decline last quarter in the number of iPad models it shipped globally. But there’s good news hidden amidst the bad: a market-analysis firm says consumers were just holding off purchases of new iOS tablets until this quarter.

Plus, Apple’s Q3 shipments were still more than sufficient to dominate this product category. If that’s not enough, as the company pointed out at its October press event, in the past four quarters, iPad sales beat every laptop vendor in the world.

Waiting for the October iPad event

Details of the 2018 iPad Pro models began to leak out months ago. All through Q3, it became increasingly likely that Apple was about to introduce new versions. 

Not surprisingly, this had an effect on sales of the current ones. As market-research company IDC put it in a statement, “iPad Pro saw year-on-year declines in anticipation of a refresh at the beginning of the fourth quarter, which bodes well for Apple through the end of the year.”

Specifically, there were 9.7 million iOS tablets shipped last quarter, a 6.1 percent year over year decline. 

 But the company launched the expected tablets this week, and there’s evidence that they are selling well. Even the most expensive versions.

iPad seems well positioned to have a strong Q4, especially as it includes the holiday shopping season.  

iPad sales versus the world

iPad sales figures wax and wane over the years, but Apple has long sold far more tablets than any of its competitors.  Last quarter was no exception. Even with shipments down slightly, iPad was 25.9 percent of the entire global market in Q3.

It’s closest competitor is Samsung who sold 5.5 million, an 11.4 percent decline, according to IDC. Interest in this company’s slates is waning, but its detachables are on the rise.

Amazon was in third place with 4.4 million tablets shipped, a modest drop. This is another company that can look forward to a strong Q4, as its Fire tablets traditionally do well as gifts.

Although not popular in America, Huawei alone of the top 5 tablet makers experienced year-over-year tablet shipment growth in Q3. “Huawei continued its impressive growth trajectory in the quarter with strong year-on-year increases in Europe and Latin America,” said IDC. The company shipped 3.2 million tablets, up 7.1 percent.

Lenovo shipped 2.3 million tablets globally in Q3, a 24.5% decline.