Published in AI

Worldwide tablet shipments down 7.2% in 2014

by on26 November 2014

First year of declining iPad shipments

2014 and 2015 could go down in history as the first years of stagnant growth in the tablet market.

According to a new report from International Data Corporation (IDC), year-on-year (YoY) growth in the tablet market is expected to slow down to 7.2%, down from 52.5% last year.

The trend is affecting big brands, even Apple, but Microsoft could buck the trend with healthy growth in the Windows tablet niche.

Tablet maturity to blame

The research firm said the overall market slowdown does not come as a surprise, as lifecycles are getting longer, increasingly resembling those of PCs.

"In the early stages of the tablet market, device lifecycles were expected to resemble those of smartphones, with replacement occurring every 2-3 years. What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years," said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.

IDC identified two major drivers behind longer than expected tablet lifecycles - legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks.

Cupertino is hurting, Redmond not so much

Apple's excellent support seems to be hurting its sales, although consumers shouldn't mind since they still get regular iOS updates. Apple iPad shipments are projected to decline 12.7% year-on-year and the company is expected to ship 64.9 million tablets this year, grabbing 27.5% of the market.

Android tablets are still in the green and IDC expects YoY shipments will be up 16%, with combined shipments of 159.5 million units this year.

Microsoft may be the biggest winner in this downturn. Sales of Windows tablets are expected to grow 67.3% this year, but it should be noted that the user base was limited to begin with. Just 10.9 million Windows tablets will be shipped this year, but by 2018 the number could triple. This is important because shipments of Android and iOS tablets over the same timeframe are expected to grow by 12% and 10% respectively.


IDC concluded that emerging form factors will help Windows tablets carve out a niche. Detachables and 2-in-1s are making headway, but progress is slow.

"Shipments of 2-in-1 devices are only expected to reach 8.7 million units in 2014, which is just 4% of the total tablet plus 2-in-1 market," IDC said. "A large reason for the relatively small uptake has been consumer hesitancy around the Windows 8 platform, which the majority of 2-in-1 devices are built upon."

IDC is not the only outfit projecting gloom, Digitimes Research also expects hard times for tablet churners.

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