IDC's Latest Tablet Sales Predictions: 10 Surprising Facts

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-06-02 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tablets have changed the mobile and computing markets in profound ways. It wasn't long ago that consumers and enterprise users were buying smartphones and notebooks. Tabletlike devices, such as the old PalmPilots, Apple Newtons, and various products from the likes of HP and IBM, were seen as niche products that were never a threat to PC sales. But the launch of the Apple iPad changed everything. People started buying tablets in large numbers as a supplement to their smartphones or even as a replacement for laptop computers, resulting in a significant decline in the sales of PCs in general. In fact, most major researchers and analysts have predicted that there's no slowing the success and growth in tablet shipments, and before long tablet sales will be unmatched, even against lightweight notebooks. A new study from research firm IDC, however, shows a surprisingly different picture of the tablet market. While things still look good for the space, they might not be as rosy as some tablet makers would have hoped. This eWEEK slide show digs into the IDC findings, plucking out facts that might surprise those who closely follow the marketplace.

 
 
 
  • IDC's Latest Tablet Sales Predictions: 10 Surprising Facts

    By Don Reisinger
    IDC's Latest Tablet Sales Predictions: 10 Surprising Facts
  • Demand for Tablets Is Actually Down

    There's less demand for tablets than just about any analyst had expected. Although tablets are still selling to the tune of hundreds of millions of units, there are fewer people in the market looking for a new slate. That might change if a major company, like Apple, rolls out a new device that dramatically changes the predominant device design, but for now, according to IDC, demand looks like it won't rebound.
    Demand for Tablets Is Actually Down
  • Shipments Will Decline Based on Previous Forecasts

    With demand down, it shouldn't surprise anyone that shipments will also be down compared with earlier forecasts. In fact, IDC had anticipated that worldwide tablet shipments this year would hit 260.9 million units. The research firm has now changed its estimate to 245.4 million units.
    Shipments Will Decline Based on Previous Forecasts
  • Sales Growth Is Slowing Sharply

    The growth in the tablet market is still there, but it's not nearly as high as it once was. IDC reported that in 2013, year-over-year tablet shipments were up nearly 52 percent. In 2014 that figure will only grow by 12.1 percent, which is a striking decline in year-over-year growth.
    Sales Growth Is Slowing Sharply
  • Tablets Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Expected

    So, what's affecting demand for tablets? According to IDC, devices are serving their purposes longer than expected. IDC reports that tablets are lasting several years for users, and when they decide to buy a new one, they give the older model to a family member, effectively eliminating that second possible sale. It's causing a dramatic shift in our understanding of the tablet space.
    Tablets Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Expected
  • Phablets Are Cutting Into Tablet Sales

    Surprisingly, phablets are becoming a major problem for tablets, as well. The devices, so-called because they are bigger than typical smartphones but smaller than tablets, are gaining in popularity. According to IDC, many of the people the company surveyed said that the phablets' large screen size was enough for computing needs, eliminating their need for a tablet.
    Phablets Are Cutting Into Tablet Sales
  • So-Called 2-in-1s Will Greatly Impact the Market

    Microsoft might be on to something with the Surface Pro 3. Although IDC doesn't believe the Surface Pro 3 will greatly impact the tablet market, the idea that a slate will be both a small notebook and a tablet is expected to gain popularity in the next year. That will help the tablet market, but cause a slight shift in buying preferences that companies must be prepared for.
    So-Called 2-in-1s Will Greatly Impact the Market
  • Smaller Tablets Are in Less Demand

    The demand for smaller tablets is expected to decline over the next several years. At the end of 2013, devices with screens between 7 and 8 inches accounted for 55 percent of the tablet market. By 2018, that will fall to 44.5 percent, according to IDC.
    Smaller Tablets Are in Less Demand
  • The Midrange Is Still the Sweet Spot

    For tablet makers, the sweet spot is still the place to be. At the end of last year, tablets with screen sizes between 8 and 11 inches owned 44.1 percent of the market. By 2018, that number will grow to 48.9 percent, becoming the most popular form factor in the tablet market.
    The Midrange Is Still the Sweet Spot
  • Big Tablets Will Grow in Popularity

    Tablets with screen sizes of 11 inches and above haven't been too popular, accounting for just 1 percent of sales in 2013. However, by 2018, that figure will grow to 6.6 percent, supporting the idea from IDC that so-called "2-in-1" tablets will be more popular over the next several years.
    Big Tablets Will Grow in Popularity
  • Windows Tablet Market Share Will Rise

    Windows currently has a small share of the tablet market, but that will change soon. According to IDC, Windows' share of the tablet market will "double between now and 2018." That doesn't necessarily mean the share of Microsoft-branded tablets will double, but Windows will gain in popularity.
    Windows Tablet Market Share Will Rise
 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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