Tablets Fast Becoming Primary Computing Devices
Tablets are fast becoming the primary computing devices globally, giving sleepless nights to PC makers, something analysts have predicted over the last quarters. Currently, Gartner confirmed that worldwide sales of tablets to end users reached 195.4 million units in 2013, a 68% increase on 2012. As per the research firm, the growth was fueled by low-end smaller screen tablet market, and first time buyers. As per Gartner analysts, emerging markets recorded growth of 145% in 2013, while mature markets grew 31%, suggesting the increased adoption of tablets from business, government and end-user consumers from these markets.
Android Takes Lead
The research firm states that Android is becoming the leading tablet operating system with a 62% market share selling 120.9 million units, while iOS’ share declined to 36% to 70.4 million units.
“Tablets are becoming a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android-based tablets being within the budget of mainstream consumers while still offering adequate specifications,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.
“As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditized, in 2014, it will be critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value — beyond just hardware and cost — to ensure brand loyalty and improved margins.”
The share of Apple’s iOS dropped 16.8 %age points in 2013 as the market demand was driven by the improved quality of smaller low-cost tablets from branded vendors, and growth of white-box products in emerging markets (these tablets mostly run Android). Android’s share in 2012 was 45.8%.
Apple, Samsung On Top
From a vendor perspective, Apple’s strong fourth quarter helped it to maintain the top position in the market in 2013. Samsung, ranked second, exhibited the highest growth of the worldwide tablet vendors, at 336%, in 2013. The expansion and improvement of its Galaxy tablet portfolio, together with strong marketing and promotions, helped Samsung shrink the gap with Apple.
In line with its smartphone approach, Samsung’s over-segmentation of its tablet portfolio helped it to offer a wider size and price choice but also helped it to test the market and find niches.
Amongst the vendors that have a less than 6 % share of the worldwide tablet market, Lenovo did particularly well in 2013 with tablet sales growing 198 %. While Asus maintained a 5.6% share (11 million units), Amazon and Lenovo were also part of the top five with a market share of 4.8% and 3.3%, respectively.
“Lenovo‘s success is a combination of launching innovative new tablet models during the second half of 2013 and the sales of its Yoga model and Windows tablets doing particularly well,” said analyst Isabelle Durand. Despite its innovative and a range of attractive products to the market, establishing a strong brand with consumers outside China, which is especially important in the tablet market, remains a key challenge.
Microsoft’s tablet volumes improved but share remained small at 2.1%. According to the firm, 4.3 million Windows tablets were sold in 2013.
Analysts believe the next one year will also be critical for tablets as replacement buyers may start upgrading to hybrid ultramobiles that will be introduced into the market soon, satisfying users who no longer want to deal with owning multiple devices or who want to keep up with the latest computing trend. “There is an opportunity here for hybrid ultramobiles to marry the functionality of a PC and a tablet, and they will also prove to be an attractive alternative replacement product among businesses,” says Gartner.
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