The media tablet market continues to evolve, as new devices help to shape the growing demand from both new and previous mobile internet users. That said, worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market's inception in 2010.
Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2 percent growth, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).
Although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 actually increased 4.4 percent -- totaling 229.6 million units overall.
"The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC.
Although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn't enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones.
IDC believes that despite an apparent slow-down of the market, they will maintain their forecast about tablet growth in 2015.
Latest Market Assessment of Media Tablet Vendors
Apple's efforts to maintain iPad momentum have fallen flat so far as the latest generation of the iPad Air and the mini offers small upgrades over previous versions. Cannibalization at the bottom of the market from the iPhone -- and at the top from the Mac PC -- appear to be a serious issue for Apple.
Samsung was able to achieve its goal of 40 million tablets in 2014, that's up by 1.1 percent from 2013. The Tab 4 series has been well received and its recent announcement to focus on mid-high tier tablets should help the bottom line, though market share upside will be a challenge.
The Lenovo portfolio depth is considered ideal. The vendor covers most screen sizes on both Android and Windows, allowing Lenovo to capture benefits of the user shift towards larger screen sizes and the growing user productivity expectations in general.
The Asus T100 was quite well received during at its initial launch. Though the device was still a top performer this quarter, it was met with stiff competition from other low-cost vendors. Asus recently expanded its Transformer lineup with the launch of three new "Chi" 2-in-1 units.
Meanwhile, Amazon recorded the steepest annual volume decline among the top five vendors. Despite a product refresh with their Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, the introduction of a low-end 6-inch Fire HD and 7-inch Fire HD, holiday sales declined nearly -70 percent compared to last year.