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Global tablet shipments continued their year-over-year decline in the third quarter, new reports from International Data Corporation (IDC) and Strategy Analytics indicated.

According to IDC, worldwide tablet shipments slipped 14.7 percent year over year to just 43 million units in the third quarter, down from 50.5 million units the year prior. Similarly, Strategy Analytics said tablet shipments fell 10 percent during the quarter from 51.7 million units the prior year to 46.6 million units in the most recent quarter.

IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said sales of low-cost detachables in the under $200 range helped prevent a steeper decline, but noted the cheaper devices come with a user experience to match.

"Unfortunately, many low-cost detachables also deliver a low-cost experience," Ubrani said. "The race to the bottom is something we have already experienced with slates and it may prove detrimental to the market in the long run as detachables could easily be seen as disposable devices rather than potential PC replacements."

IDC data indicated Apple retained its top market share of 21.5 percent in the third quarter even with a year-over-year shipment decline of 6.2 percent to 9.3 million units. The IDC report said Apple’s iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad Pro accounted for more than two-thirds of its tablet shipments during the quarter, with the latter device boosting revenue to remain flat despite the shipment slide. Strategy Analytics also pegged Apple’s third quarter tablet shipments at 9.3 million, but put its market share at a slightly lower 19.1 percent.

IDC said Samsung remained in second place with 15.1 percent of the market share but pushed out just 6.5 million units thanks to a decline of 19.3 percent year over year. Fourth place Lenovo also saw a double-digit shipment slide of 10.8 percent year over year to just 2.7 million units, according to the IDC report.

In both data sets, Huawei achieved double digit tablet growth – 14 percent to 2.5 million units by Strategy Analytics numbers and 28.4 percent to 2.4 million units by IDC figures – but the real winner was Amazon.

Thanks in part to an Amazon Prime Day sale in early July, IDC said Amazon’s tablet shipments in the quarter jumped 319 percent from 800,000 units the year prior to 3.1 million units in the third quarter. Strategy Analytics pegged the growth figure a bit lower but still in the triple digits at 119 percent from 900,000 units to 2 million units in the most recent period. The disparity can in part be attributed to the fact that IDC said it didn’t count the 6-inch tablets offered by Amazon in its calculations for the year ago period (3Q2015).

“The Amazon Prime Day sale in early July led to a huge surge in shipments of its Fire tablets,” IDC wrote. “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.

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