Worldwide tablet sales are expected to hit 233 million devices in 2015, up 8 percent from 2014, but quite a bit fewer than the numbers seen in the previous few years.
That's the conclusion of the latest global tablet sales estimates from research firm Gartner, which were released in a Jan. 5 announcement.
At the same time, global PC sales are expected to rise by 1 percent to 321 million devices, including desktop PCs, notebooks and ultramobile premium laptops, according to Gartner's figures.
The tablet growth estimates tell an interesting tale, the report stated, with the global tablet market falling off and not returning to the levels of growth seen in the last four years.
"The collapse of the tablet market in 2014 was alarming," Ranjit Atwal, a Gartner research director, said in a statement. "In the last two years global sales of tablets were growing in double-digits. The steep drop can be explained by several factors. One is that the lifetime of tablets is being extended—they are shared out amongst family members and software upgrades, especially for iOS devices, keep the tablets current. Another factor includes the lack of innovation in hardware which refrains consumers from upgrading."
Meanwhile, worldwide combined shipments of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones in 2015 are estimated to reach 2.5 billion units, an increase of 3.9 percent over 2014, according to Gartner.
Mobile phone growth, however, remains healthy, with an expected growth rate of 3.7 percent in 2015, while reaching two billion units in 2016, according to Gartner.
"The smartphone market is becoming polarized between the high- and low-end market price points," Annette Zimmermann, a Gartner research director, said in a statement. "On one hand, the premium phone with an average selling price at $447 in 2014 saw growth dominated by iOS, and on the other end of the spectrum you have Android and other open OS phones' growth area in the basic phone segment, where the average phone costs $100. For the midrange smartphones, the market opportunity is becoming increasingly limited."
The Android operating system was on about one billion smartphones that shipped in 2014, according to Gartner, with an expected double-digit pace to continue in 2015.
And in an intriguing twist, devices running Windows Phone are expected to gain a higher percentage of new sales than iOS phones, Atwal said in a statement. "From 2015, we expect Windows to grow faster than iOS, as the PC market stabilizes and the challenge for the next iPhone to find significant growth becomes greater, narrowing the gap between the two operating systems," he said.
A Gartner analyst could not be reached for comment on the latest estimates when contacted by eWEEK on Jan. 5.
Interestingly, Gartner estimates made back in July 2014 expected a higher number of tablet sales for 2015, according to an earlier eWEEK report. At that time, tablet shipments were forecast to jump from more than 256 million in 2014 to almost 321 million in 2015.
Global mobile phone sales were estimated to grow from more than 1.8 billion in 2014 to more than 1.9 billion in 2015 at that time.