Tablets vs. Phablets: Who Will Win The Battle?

by Shweta Verma    Jun 30, 2014

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Even as PC manufacturers are trying hard to fight the continuous decline in PC sales, there is yet another battle brewing in the market. The battle between tablets, smart phones and hybrid devices which are more popularly termed as ‘phablets.’ While the availability of multiple computing devices in different sizes and functionalities has created ample choice for the consumer, for the manufacturer it has only added to the confusion!

A closer look at the ongoing turmoil in the market shows that PC manufacturers who had been trying to stay afloat by diversifying their product portfolios now have a new reason to worry about. As technology advances and new computing devices enter the market, these products are also competing with each other to grab market share. The market for tablets, for instance, which witnessed a whopping three digit growth in the last two years has suddenly dipped from 424% in 2012-13 to 76% in 2013-14, according to the recent findings of a MAIT IMRB survey.

Read: Are Phablets Eating Into India’s Growing Tablet Market?

Analysts say that this sudden dip in growth is clearly a result of increasing features and functionality offered by the newer variants of smartphones or phablets. “Although a 400% plus growth was clearly unsustainable, such a fast drop was not really expected,” says Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, Group Business Director, BIRD, IMRB International.

According to Amar Babu, President of MAIT, the way convergence of devices is happening it is affecting the overall IT penetration and market growth. Last year, a number of low-cost tablets that entered the market were immediately picked up. But over time, there was a huge discontentment among consumers who purchased these products. And now, smart phones or phablets in the Rs 10K range are offering much better features than these low-cost tablets.

The MAIT IMRB survey states, “The market is expected to grow only by about 27% in FY 2014-15 owing to the consumers moving to adoption of higher screen size smartphone.”

Even globally, the growth of tablets has shown a considerable decline. According to IDC data, tablet shipments in the first quarter of 2014 grew by only about 3.9% compared to the same period a year ago. IDC predicts that tablet shipments for the year will rise by just about 12.1% compared to a growth rate of around 51.8% during 2013. 

However, analysts also point out that with new computing devices entering the market every day, it is tough to say if the future belongs to phablets, smart phones, PCs or All-In-Ones. The pace at which convergence of products is happening, it is only obvious that some of these products will be wiped out or replaced by newer, better variants,