Tablet sales plunged more than 10 percent in 2015, including a 14 percent drop in the fourth quarter. But sales of “detachables” – on which Lenovo is betting heavily – are a bright spot, according to research firm IDC.

While overall sales of tablets dropped to 65.9 million in the fourth quarter from 76.4 million a year earlier, detachable tablets – machines that can be separated into two pieces – climbed to a record high of 8.1 million, IDC reported Monday.

“Despite the market’s negative trajectory overall” is how IDC put the deatchable number into perspective.

“The transition towards detachable devices appears to be in full swing as pure slate tablets experienced their greatest annual decline to date of -21.1%,” IDC added. “On the other hand, detachable tablets more than doubled their shipments since the fourth quarter of last year.”

Earlier this month, Lenovo stressed that the world’s No. 1 PC seller sees deatchables such as its Yoga as a growth opportunity. The company unveiled new Yogas at the CES show in January.

“We’re actually combining our PC and our tablet business together right now and looking at, ‘How do we take these different form factors,'” Lenovo’s Gerry Smith, a senior vice president based in Morrisville, told Business Insider.

“If you look at the whole detachable PC market, it’s actually growing, and a lot of people don’t look at it that way. And so our goal is, ‘Let’s not just look at PCs, let’s look at the whole PC usage model’ and we’ll go out and have devices across all of that.”

In its analysis of top tablet vendors, IDC said Lenovo is making a good bet.

“Lenovo maintained its market share in the last quarter of 2015, shipping 3.2 million units for a -13.5% decline over the same period last year,” IDC noted. “However, the Yoga, MIIX, and Thinkpad brands’ combined traditional PC savoir faire should help Lenovo regain market share in 2016.”

IDC Analyst Jitesh Ubrani noted manufacturers are trying to capitalize on the detachable trend.

“This quarter was unique as we had new detachables in the market from all three of the major platform players,” he said.  “Despite lukewarm reviews, the iPad Pro was the clear winner this season as it was the top selling detachable, surpassing notable entries from Microsoft and other PC vendors. It’s also important to note that the transition towards detachable tablets has presented positive opportunities for both Apple and Microsoft. However, Google’s recent foray into this space has been rather lackluster as the Android platform will require a lot more refinement to achieve any measurable success.”

So why are detacbales gaining popularity?

“One of the biggest reasons why detachables are growing so fast is because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets at IDC. “We believe Apple sold just over two million iPad Pros while Microsoft sold around 1.6 million Surface devices, a majority of which were Surface Pro and not the more affordable Surface 3. With these results, it’s clear that price is not the most important feature considered when acquiring a detachable – performance is.”

Inside the numbers

Tablet sales fell for market leader Apple (iPad shipments plunged nearly 25 percent) and for No. 2 Samsung (down 18 percent.)

Amazon sales did counter the downward spiral, rising more than 175 percent. The sale of 5.2 million was 2 million more than Lenovo, which saw sales fall 13.5 percent.

For the year, Lenovo, which operates one of its two executive headquarters in Morrisville, ranked No. 3 with sales increasing 0.4 percent to slightly above last year’s total of 11.2 million.

Apple sales fell to under 50 million from 63.4 million in 2014, a drop of 22 percent.

Samsung, meanwhile, sold 33.4 million units, which was 16 percent less than a year earlier.

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