What's Hurting Tablet Market Growth Globally?
Worldwide sales of tablet computers witnessed just a 6 percent up from the same period a year ago, with only 52.9 million units shipped, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. Earlier reports have also suggested that the tablet market would remain flat or even decline during this year. Analysts have attributed this slower growth to saturated market growth in many developed countries. They have also said that this dip in growth is clearly a result of increasing features and functionality offered by the newer variants of smartphones or phablets.
Android dominates; Apple shows a dip
Despite slower growth, the market was led by devices using the Google Android operating system. Android tablet sales rose 11 percent to 36.8 million in the March-June period, the survey found, and grabbed a 70 percent market share. Apple sales fell from a year earlier to 13.3 million, according to the report, which were above Apple’s own report this week showing 12.3 million.
The research firm said Apple’s market share slipped to 25 percent based on the latest decline. Windows-powered tablets accounted for 5 percent of the market, with unit sales up some 28 percent at 2.7 million, the survey found.
“Android consolidation continued as it was the chosen OS (operating system) for seven out of 10 tablets shipped in the market,” says Strategy Analytics researcher Peter King. He added that Android is continuing to make steady progress due to the wide range of vendors and wide range of screen sizes and price-points.”
“The 13.3 million shipments represented a decline of 9% annually and 19% sequentially. It has been nine quarters since Apple produced such a low tablet shipment figure,” he further said.
Phablets, smartphones bring tablet woes
While smartphones are showing a steady growth worldwide, the other category of devices phablets are also eating up into the tablet market believe experts. According to IT analyst Gaurav Kumar, phablets shift to mainstream is a confluence of trends. “Owning a phablet eliminates the need to juggle between multiple devices. It eliminates the weaknesses of smartphones and tablet. “Phablets are small, compact and with more and more vendors focusing on bigger screens and improved processors, phablets will get better and more efficient in the coming days,” he says.
Another report by ABI released earlier this year predicts that APAC will continue to be the world’s biggest market for phablets. Last year, the region accounted for 42% of global shipments, and is expected to expand steadily over the next few years to account for over 50% of shipments by 2017, it said.
IDC too predicted in an earlier report that tablet shipments for the year will rise by just about 12.1% compared to a growth rate of around 51.8% during 2013. “The popularity of phablets has crossed over the demand for 7-inch tablets. First-time users latching onto such devices are now looking to move to products that offer better experience in terms of life span and quality,” said Karan Thakkar, senior market analyst with IDC.
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. They believe at 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 and better variants - an obvious reason why tablet growth could have slowed down at present.
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