iPad appears to be a leaky lifeboat from the sinking ship SS Tablet

IDC provided data today showing that although Apple's iPad continues to be the market share leader in the tablet market, its share has dropped markedly over the past year and the overall market for tablets is declining. 

This year, Apple shipped 10.9 million iPads in the second quarter (ending June 30), while the number for 2014 was 13.3 million units. That's a decline of 18 percent in one year. Apple's share of the overall tablet space dropped from 27.7 percent in 2014 to 24.5 percent this year. 

Apple's not the only company seeing a drop. Rival Samsung fell from 8.6 million units in 2014 to 7.6 million units this year, with a marketshare drop of one point down to 17% in 2015. So who is gaining share? Lenovo, Huawei and LG Electronics are all seeing growth year over year. Part of the growth might be in the 2-in-1 tablet ("touchscreen laptop") market, which is included in IDC's numbers.

IDC Worldwide quarterly tablet tracker

IDC Worldwide quarterly tablet tracker

Our take on the news:

There are many possible reasons for the decline in the tablet market; the devices might be on a longer refresh market than smartphones, many users may prefer a "phablet" like the Apple iPhone 6 Plus to having both a smartphone and a tablet, and corporations might be slowing their purchases of the devices until they see more enterprise-oriented applications arrive. 

Rumors have it that Apple may ship a significantly improved 7.9-inch iPad mini this year, while a larger iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch display might also make it to market. Both of these devices may jump-start Apple's presence in the tablet market, since the less expensive iPad mini could be attractive in education while the larger device may have many applications in the enterprise.

Apple will probably continue to have problems competing against cheap, yet capable devices by companies like Huawei, and the lack of a true 2-in-1 tablet in the Apple lineup might also be hindering growth. Then again, this is still a very new product category -- the first iPad shipped in 2010 -- so the future is anyone's guess. 

What's your take on tablets? Do you think they're on the way out, replaced by a combination of larger smartphones like the iPhone 6 Plus and combo tablet-laptops like the Microsoft Surface III? Let us know in the comments below.