Tablet Sales Dive As PCs Thrive

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Bad news for Apple as tablet sales decline sharply, while PC makers enjoy a slower than expected decline

The latest shipment forecast from analyst house IDC contains some sobering news for makers of tablet devices.

It highlights a dire year in 2014 for shipments of tablet devices, whilst in comparison the PC market enjoyed some growth.

iPad Warning

And IDC has some particularly bad news for Apple, when it singled out the iPad maker as having a particularly dire year for tablet sales.

Indeed, whilst Apple recently reported very healthy profits thanks to mainly to strong sales of the new iPhone 6 and Mac computers, it did admit that iPad sales had fallen by 7 percent in the last quarter to 12.3 million as demand for tablets dries up. Gartner has also warned that iPad sales have peaked and will fall.

Apple iPad Air 2 Tim Cook (1)Apple is hoping that a refreshed range of iPads will improve sales in the next few months. The company also agreed a partnership wtih IBM to provide tablets for businesses, alongside a range of custom applications.

But IDC forecast that the worldwide tablet market is expected to see a massive deceleration in 2014 with year-over-year growth slowing to 7.2 percent, down from 52.5 percent in 2013. It seems that consumers are holding onto their tablets far longer than they would with their smartphones. And the arrival of bigger smartphones with larger screen could also be a factor here as well.

“At the core of this slowdown is the expectation that 2014 will represent the first full year of decline in Apple iPad shipments,” IDC said. “Both the iPad and the overall market slowdown do not come as a surprise as device lifecycles for tablets have continued to lengthen, increasingly resembling those of PCs more than smartphones.”

“The tablet market continues to be impacted by a few major trends happening in relevant markets,” said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. “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.”

And there was some bad news for Microsoft, when IDC warned that shipments of 2-in-1 devices like its Surface Pro 3, only expected to reach 8.7 million units in 2014, which is just 4 percent of the total tablet plus 2-in-1 market. It blamed consumer hesitancy around the Windows 8 platform for the small takeup.

Looking forward however, IDC does reckon that the tablet shipments will have healthy growth in 2018.

Meanwhile IDC says that PC shipments are expected to fall by 2.7 percent in 2014, an improvement from the previous forecast of 3.7 percent. It said that pressure on the PC market from the tablet sector is waning, and a rebound in Western Europe has helped PC shipments.

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