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Tablet shipments ride downhill train

Posted: 08 Jul 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IDC? tablet? iOS? ABI Research? phablet?

According to analysts, tablet shipments are expected to drop in 2015 as the market loses momentum amid saturation among consumers in developed regions. In fact, International Data Corp. (IDC) forecasted that shipments of tablets and 2-in-1 devices will plummet to 221.8 million this year, down 3.8 per cent from 2014.Other market research firms are similarly pessimistic about the tablet market in 2015. IHS Technology predicts that the tablet market will decline in 2015 and remain flat in 2016 before returning to growth in 2017.

According to ABI Research, tablet shipments declined in Q1 by 35 per cent compared with 4Q14 and by 16 per cent compared to 1Q14.

iPad Mini 3

iPad Mini 3 (Source: Apple)

Rhoda Alexander, director of tablet and notebook research at IHS Technology, said tablet shipments have fallen in previous quarters, but that the Q1 drop stood out. "What's notable about this is that it's a steeper rate of decline than we have seen," Alexander said.

Analysts see several reasons for the decline of tablet shipments. Chief among them is saturation, with a large portion of interested consumers in developed countries already owning a tablet. The number of consumers upgrading to a newer device is not sufficient to keep unit shipments on the upswing, analysts stated.

"People with the wherewithal to buy their first tablets have done so," said Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI. Orr said tablet shipments may never again enjoy the growth rates they enjoyed when the products first emerged, but noted that tablets are still a strong force in the computing market.

The rise of larger smartphones is also contributing to the decline of tablet shipments, according to analysts.

Just as the emergence of tablets in the late 2000s cannibalised the sales of other products categories such as netbooks, the growing popularity of so-called phablets is cannibalising tablet sales, Alexander said. "A certain segment of the population wants an all-in-one solution," Alexander said.

Ryan Reith, programme director for IDC's worldwide mobile device trackers, said the popularity of smaller-screen tablets is also a factor. "Users with larger-screen smartphones have tended to have less need for a tablet with a screen size comparable to their smartphone," Reith said.

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