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Oct 23 2014

Gartner Predicts Slowdown in Tablet Sales

Market analysts at Gartner have noted a substantial downshift in tablet sales as consumers begin to show greater interest in smaller, more mobile devices such as phablets and low-budget smartphones.

According to an October forecast from Gartner UK, global tablet sales will reach 229 million units by the end of the year, 11% more than in 2013. While this is still a fantastic result, it does pale somewhat in comparison to last year's 55% boost – and also in comparison to the 38.6% growth rate the analysts predicted in March. Altogether, tablets will account for 9.5% of the worldwide combined shipments of consumer devices in 2014. Unexpected as it may be, the slowdown is in line with a globally decreased growth in device sales, which will "only" reach 3.2% or 2.4 billion units, as opposed to the 6.9% and 2.5 billion units projected earlier this year.

Further according to Gartner's analysis, the "downward trend" in the tablets segment mainly "stems from the slowdown in basic ultramobiles — new sales of iPads and Android tablets — and the lifetime extension of current tablets to three years by 2018." Or as Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, puts it: "Some tablet users are not replacing a tablet with a tablet, they are favoring hybrid or two-in-one devices, increasing its (sic!) share of the ultramobile premium market to 22 percent in 2014, and 32 percent by 2018." Plus, upcoming tablet generations are expected to be more mature and robust than their predecessors, which in turn eliminates the need for frequent upgrades. Based on these two trends, Gartner projects over 90 million fewer new tablet purchases and 155 million fewer tablet replacements through 2018.

Thankfully for many ICT vendors, the slowdown isn't half as bad (if visible) in the mobile and smartphone segment: strong sales of lower-end smartphones, already visible in the past two years, will continue to drive the market in 2014. In this context, Gartner's analysts expect sales of basic smartphones, including midrange Android devices, to grow by 52% this year, while the number of utility smartphones will double.

Despite these somewhat sobering results, the researchers maintained a positive outlook for 2015: total device shipments could grow to 2.53 billion units next year (+ 5.4%), whereas tablet sales are expected to reach 273 million – 19% more than this year.

For more details and the British take on things, please see Paul Kunert's report at The Register.


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