The iPad boosted its market share in the final quarter of last year, achieving very slight growth as the tablet market as a whole declined, reports IDC.

The company attributes Apple’s ‘solid lead’ to a balance of entry-level and iPad Pro shipments.

Apple maintained a solid lead in the holiday quarter driving growth both through its lower-priced 9.7-inch iPad as well as its newly refreshed iPad Pro products. While the lower-price iPad has continued to drive a strong consumer upgrade cycle, the shifting focus is to iPad Pro and its potential in the commercial and education segments …

In particular, with consumer sales falling and only the enterprise and education markets showing any signs of growth, the iPad Pro range is expected to become increasingly important.

Apple’s iPad shipments increased slightly from 13.1M to 13.2M, but because it achieved this marginal growth in a declining market, its share climbed from 24.3% in Q4 2016 to 26.6% in the final quarter of 2017.

IDC’s definition of tablets is broad, covering a mix of what it terms ‘slates’ and ‘detachables,’ the iPad Pro spanning the two as a keyboard can be attached to the iPad Pro range. The company reports that the detachable market grew 10.3%, but sharp falls in slate shipments meant that the tablet market as a whole declined 7.9%.

The big news was dramatic growth for Amazon’s Fire tablets, up 50.3% year-on-year. Pricing as low as $40 and Alexa support has made them the default choice for budget-conscious buyers. This saw the company overtake Samsung to take the number two slot, with market share of 15.6%. Samsung’s share fell from 14.9% to 14.1%.

IDC says that Samsung may struggle this year.

Samsung dropped to the third position behind Amazon. Shipments of its detachable portfolio continue to rise, however these gains are outweighed by the declines seen among its slate models. As its lower-cost Tab A and E series is challenged by vendors promising better value, Samsung will face a particular challenge in upgrading its base to both a higher-priced and detachable device.

IDC recently reported that Mac shipments were up 7.3% despite a tough US market.

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