Is tablet adoption reaching a saturation point?
There were fewer tablet devices shipped around the world during the first three months of this year than for the same period in 2013. This is the first time tablet shipments registered such a decline, according to the market research firm NPD DisplaySearch.
An estimated 56 million tablets were sold between January and March down from 59 million for the same period last year.
“Tablet PC demand in 2014 is being affected by falling demand for the 7” class in emerging regions and in China, where many local white-box brands have experienced lower-than-expected shipment growth,” said Hisakazu Toril, vice-president, smart application research at NPD. “Most major brands have recently reduced their business plans for 2014.”
He also said that there is a risk that the replacement cycle for tablets will go beyond the one to two year range “unless brands can develop more attractive usage scenarios.”
NPD reported that many manufacturers reported weak tablet shipments in Q1 due in part to delayed launches of new products. NPD, however forecasts that tablet shipments for 2015 will reach 285 million.
For the past several years tablets and smart phones were primary growth drivers in the smart device category. NPD foresees the year-over-year growth rate of tablets in 2014 will fall to just 14 per cent and slide to the single digits by 2017.
The firm also expects that competition between 5.5” and largest smart phones and 7” to 7.9” tablets will further reduce demand for tablets in 2018.
Major brands are likely to move to larger sizes, and shipments of 8”-10.9” tablets will overtake 7”-7.9” tablet by 2018. In addition, NPD expects 11” and larger tablets will exceed 10 per cent of the market by 2018.
“The increase in screen sizes will help increase tablet PC revenues.” Torii said.