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Detachable tablet sales are taking off

And both Apple and Microsoft are at the front of the pack.

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The tablet market might be tanking as a whole, but there's apparently one major bright spot: tablets with detachable keyboards. While IDC estimates that slate shipments were down almost 14 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, shipments of detachables more than doubled to 8.1 million. That's about 12 percent of the entire space, folks. Analysts suspect that many people want to treat tablets as PC replacements, and they're willing to pay a premium to make that happen.

You won't win any prizes for guessing who's at the front, though. Category pioneer Microsoft reportedly shipped 1.6 million Surface tablets (most of them Pros), while Apple shipped over 2 million iPad Pros in the device's inaugural quarter. Design experience, brand recognition and sheer financial clout clearly went a long way.

This isn't to say that companies need detachables for success. IDC notes that some of the hottest action came from low-end tablets, like Amazon's $50 Fire tablet and various models from Huawei or Lenovo. However, it's no wonder that Samsung and others are getting into the detachable tablet game. It's not only a booming category, but potentially more lucrative -- even if the tablet market shrinks, you could still turn a tidy profit.

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