Tablets make up less than 10% of device sales
Worldwide tablet growth slows to 11% in 2014, down from 55% in 2013, Gartner says
Worldwide tablet sales in 2014 will amount to less than 10% of all devices sold, as new buyers turn to alternative devices and existing users extend the lifetime of their tablets, according to Gartner.
In its latest report on the global tablet market, the research house estimated that tablet sales worldwide will reach 229m units in 2014, an 11% increase from 2013. In 2013, tablet sales grew 55%, Gartner said, adding that 2014 tablet sales would represent just 9.5% of total device sales this year. The total device market is estimated to reach 2.4bn units in 2014, a 3.2% increase from 2013.
"The device market continues to evolve, with the relationship between traditional PCs, different form factor ultramobiles (clamshells, hybrids and tablets) and mobile phones becoming increasingly complex," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.
In the tablets segment, the downward trend stems from the slowdown in basic ultramobiles - new sales of iPads and Android tablets - and the lifetime extension of current tablets to three years by 2018, Gartner said. The research house projected over 90m fewer new tablet purchasers and 155m fewer tablet replacements through 2018.
"Some tablet users are not replacing a tablet with a tablet, they are favouring hybrid or two-in-one devices, increasing its share of the ultramobile premium market to 22% in 2014, and 32% by 2018," said Atwal.
However, the mobile phone segment will continue to grow in 2014 due to strong sales of lower-end smartphones, Gartner said. Sales of basic smartphones (including midrange Android devices) are projected to grow 52% in 2014, while utility smartphone units (including low-end Chinese white box devices) will double.
"The market is clearly favouring those vendors offering value in lower-priced smartphones. This trend has become more apparent, especially in the second quarter of 2014 when most of the top Chinese smartphone vendors grew volume and market share," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.
"As smartphones reach lower prices, Gartner expects nine out of 10 phones to be smartphones by 2018."
Gartner said that the expansion of affordable mobile phones that are attracting replacements in many emerging countries has contributed to the increase in the global market share of smartphones, which is set to reach 71% in 2014, up 17 percentage points from 2013. Android and iOS have further entrenched their market positions in the global phone market, making it difficult for alternative ecosystems to become more than niche players.
In terms of operating systems, the emerging markets represent an attractive sector for Android, which is set to grow 47% in 2014, Gartner said. In 2015, Gartner estimates that shipments of Android devices will reach over 1bn in emerging markets, driven by sales of lower-cost products.
Meanwhile, Apple's new devices, which target the premium market, will continue to help drive iOS volumes, Gartner said. These devices will benefit from a controlled and integrated ecosystem, a focus on the user experience and a leading enterprise tablet position.