Businesses work out what tablets are for in 2014


Worldwide traditional PC, tablet, ultramobile and mobile phone shipments are on pace to grow 6.9% in 2014

The substitution of tablets to replace PCs will begin to slow in 2014 as businesses work out how best to use specific devices, new research has shown.

Worldwide combined shipments of devices including PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones are projected to reach 2.5 billion units in 2014, a 6.9% increase from 2013, according to Gartner.

Device shipments grew 4.8% in 2013, yet sales of traditional PCs will continue to hamper the overall growth of devices, and substitution from PC to tablet will decline, said Gartner.

'Tablet substitution of notebooks will start to dissipate from this year onwards as consumers and businesses align the right device with the right usage pattern. As they do this, we will see where dedicated devices, such as tablets, or hybrid devices, those detachable or convertible devices, fit in the overall portfolio of devices,' said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

As the overall device market starts to saturate, the increasing pressure on margins will continue, and vendors will look at different ways to cope with the ongoing issue of lower margins. While the trend of declining prices is inevitable, consumers increasingly value other features in a device beyond just the price. For example, new tablet users look for smaller screens and greater portability, while current tablet users look for better connectivity in their tablet replacements.

Mobile phones, the largest segment of the overall device market, are expected to reach 1.9 billion units in 2014, a 4.9% increase from 2013. The growth in 2014 is projected to come from the lower end of the premium phone market and the higher end of the basic phone market.

'While the lack of compelling hardware innovation marginally extended replacement cycles in 2013, we've witnessed an upgrade path in the emerging markets. Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe have all upgraded their phones, which will help to compensate for mature market weakness in the near term,' said Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner.

In 2014, the worldwide tablet market is forecast to grow 38.6% as overall adoption continues to grow faster in markets outside North America. 'The adoption of tablets has been largely concentrated in the US, with the dominance of Apple. Market dynamics in other regions are different, as the uptake of lower cost, smaller, non-branded tablets, becomes more apparent,' said Atwal.

Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs are forecast to total 276.7 million units in 2014, a 6.6% decline from 2013. 'The traditional PC category continues to decrease, with only about two thirds of notebook and desktop replacements remaining within this category. The majority of the remaining one third will move to ultramobiles, while others will not be replaced at all,' said Atwal.

In the operating system (OS) market), iOS tablet growth has slowed in North America and Apple will need to reinvigorate its replacement cycle. Google's objective is to increase Android's footprint, and it is still on target to sell over one billion devices during 2014.

Android is top of the tree and will stay there, moving from 879.8 million mobile phones, ultramobiles and PC units shipped worldwide in 2013 to hit 1,171 million this year. Next year Android will ship 1,358,3 million units.

In second place for worldwide device shipments is Windows, hitting 339,1 million mobile phones, ultramobiles and PC shipments this year, up from 325,1 million last year, and projected to ship 379,3 million next year.

Finally, iOS and Mac OS is on for 286,4 million shipments this year, up from 241,4 million in 2013. It is expected to ship 324,5 million in 2015.


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