Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

Summary: Global tablet shipments in the first quarter fell 28 percent from the fourth quarter and failed to hit expectations, according to research firm IDC.

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Global tablet shipments in the first quarter fell 28 percent from the fourth quarter and failed to hit expectations, according to research firm IDC.

Specifically, tablet shipments were 7.2 million units worldwide. Although that tally failed to meet expectations, IDC still raised its 2011 shipment forecast to 53.5 million from 50.4 million.

In a nutshell, the tablet market may prove to be just as seasonal as the PC industry and other electronics products. IDC also noted that e-reader shipments of 3.3 million were also down from the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, e-readers are posting 105 percent growth in the first quarter. Tablets don't have year over year comparisons just yet.

IDC noted that Apple's iPad continues to carry the tablet market, but the company's shipments were below expectations. IDC added that "supply-chain hiccups" on screens and the announcement of the iPad 2 hurt units.

Despite the problems with tablet rivals, Android-based devices represented 34 percent of the operating system pie. E-readers, powered by Barnes & Noble's Color Nook, are expected to ship 16.2 million units in 2011, up 24 percent from 2010.

In a statement, IDC analyst Jennifer Song said:

Although media tablet sales were not as high as expected in 1Q11 due to slower consumer demand, overall economic conditions, and supply-chain constraints, we believe with the entrance of competitive new devices in second half of 2011, the market will sell close to 53 million units for the year and continue to grow long-term.

However, there are a few wild-cards to ponder when it comes to tablet demand. Among them:

  • Price: $499 as an entry point is still pricey in a down economy. The jobs report on Friday was abysmal and consumers are likely to hold back after seeing some ugly headlines.
  • Lack of credible rivals to Apple: Apple can't carry the global tablet market forever. Android tablets---at a better price point---need to step up. TechRepublic's Bill Detwiler notes that teardowns reveal that HP's tablet construction resembles a PC. HTC's Flyer is constructed like a big phone. Those approaches may not work.
  • E-readers are cheaper: Barnes & Noble's Color Nook is leading the e-reader race. The dirty secret: The Color Nook is a nice tablet for $250.

Those three items may be enough to prevent tablets from becoming the glory device in terms of unit shipments---especially if the economy remains so-so at best.

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Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

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94 comments
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  • New Android 3.1 Honeycomb will make the difference

    as many new features included like USB support and gaming accessories expected
    swisslakes
    • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

      @swisslakes I doubt gaming accessories will help it too much. Anyone who actually wants serious gaming will get a device dedicated to that and anyone who wants casual gaming won't need those accessories.
      Aerowind
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @Aerowind
        That depends on games. You know THE game dev make platform viable for gaming when they release good games. So Andorid can be "next" gaming device. However i suspect that iOS is more likely to become gaming king (as it is right now in smartfones).
        przemoli
    • LMAO...

      @swisslakes.. USB?? seriously?? it's 2011 man.. there's this new thing out.. it's call WIRELESS.. lmao..
      doctorSpoc
      • Wireless? Really?

        @doctorSpoc

        Yes, there is such a thing as wireless. Now, watch as those of us with a lick of perspective attempt to extend some to you...

        --USB 2.0 is faster than 802.11n and Bluetooth. It can also run at full duplex, whereas 802.11n cannot.

        --Wireless of any kind is going to inherently be more complex at the physical layer than USB. With USB, you plug it in. With wireless, there will be some sort of pairing/authentication involved. When it works properly, it's great. When it doesn't work properly, it can be a nightmare, as my friend Linda found out after three hours on the phone with Verizon since she couldn't get her Samsung Galaxy phone to pair with her Ford vehicle's stereo.

        --USB can power the device being connected. With wireless, you need to have a separate battery, which means a separate charger.

        --With wireless, the device being connected needs some sort of embedded interface mechanism to facilitate pairing. This gets absurd on things like an SD card reader.

        --Wireless radios generally suck battery life faster than a USB connection.

        --Wireless connections generally don't fare well with multiple connections. Sure, pairing 2 or 3 devices with Bluetooth is possible, but concurrently using them all makes the half duplex nature of wireless communication evident.

        So to sum up, your solution for removing a cable is to add a different cable by requiring another device to be charged, add complexity when connecting the device to the tablet while decreasing that tablet's battery life, doing so with a slower protocol that gets slower as additional devices are added, and increasing manufacturing costs by adding a radio transceiver (and enough circuitry to handle a TCP/IP stack in the case of 802.11n) and battery instead of a four-pin piece of metal?

        I'll pass, thanks.

        Joey
        voyager529
      • stopped reading when read that USB is faster than 802.11n...

        @Joey.. 802.11n is theoretically faster and real world faster.. 600Mb/s for 802.11n vs 480Mb/s.. when since is inaccuracy equal to perspective..
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @doctorSpoc

        Citation for a 600Mbit/sec router or AP please. I've only seen 150Mb/s and 300Mb/s flavors. My real-world experience with the 300MBit/sec flavor with my laptop sitting right next to my router has gotten me, at best, 110Mbit/sec during a file transfer/ Anecdotal, yes, but I've never seen with my own eyes a wireless transfer that was faster than a transfer to a USB 2.0 device.

        But let's even say that I'm inaccurate, my $120 Buffalo router running DD-WRT is crap, and my USB 2.0 Hard disk that can sustain 30MBytes/sec write speed and my USB 3.0 flash disk that can sustain 70MBytes/sec read speed are all flukes, therefore my speed argument is inaccurate. You gained yourself no credibility by stating that you didn't read my other points about challenges with pairing, half-duplex transmission, battery life, wireless peripherals, and concurrent wireless signals. I didn't even get into the security argument.

        Wireless has its place; I'm using it right now to respond to you. But I don't think that the general public is waiting to buy a tablet solely because there aren't 1,001 wireless devices to hook it to.

        Joey
        voyager529
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @voyager529 What in the world are you talking about? Speed, who really cares? It's not like I am going to be editing video stored remotely over the wifi connection where I need the speed and full duplex. Wireless speed is far more than sufficient for the transfers that most people are and will do to their tablet devices. Bluetooth syncing with your friends car is far more of an issue than connecting to a wifi access point which we do every single day. Why do we need a battery for the WiFi access point that is plugged into the wall. Wireless does not mean that it has to be over 3/4G network, you even mention 802.11 in your post so you seem to realize it's out there. Embedded interface mechanism for the SD card reader? I don't need any such think to sync the photos I copied off my SD card to my laptop or desktop wirelessly via dropbox of numerous other options. You keep bringing up Bluetooth like that is what he was talking about. Sure you can cherry pick scenarios that fit your argument but those scenarios do not fit the needs or actions of most users.
        non-biased
    • Will that make a difference?

      @swisslakes
      I thought the lure of the tablet is that it frees you from needing any accessories at all, The tablet (theoretically) being a light duty "quick info" type of device.
      John Zern
      • seriously..

        @John Zern the propellor heads want to ruin the use of their device by dangling multiple wired devices off of it like some wacky tablet version of power bar.. tether it, dock it etc.. it's a portable device guys attaching all these wired device to it is absolutely idiotic.. and on top of that totally unnecessary in the age of wireless devices..
        doctorSpoc
      • doctorSpoc, If people want to do that

        @John Zern
        then I'm all for "do what makes you happy", and I agree with you that some people will welcome the chance to do that, and will carry around those things or take advantage of them at home.

        My question is, are there [b]that[/b] many people looking for that ability, to make a noticable uptick in tablet sales?
        John Zern
      • actually i totally agree.. what's funny is that...

        @John Zern.. these guys think they are typical consumers.. Android, RIM and HP tablets have those elements along with Flash support and have sold very little.. iPad has outsold them 8-9 to one.. so i think it's pretty safe to say that people in general don't care about such things.. and for good reason.. these features don't really make a lot of sense given present technology and the way that most will use these devices... yes a few people might care but if these commenters or tablet manufactures think this will generate lots of sales.. they are sadly mistaken..
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @John Zern

        Agreed! It's not a gamers first choice and it never will be! Most gamers would choose an Xbox 360 and their 52" display any day of the week. Tablets are over-sized smart phones. Productivity isn't very good so they can't compete againsts a full fledged PC or laptop but they're nice for quick access to info.
        Rob.sharp
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @Peter Perry.. your assertion that because a tablet does not replace a laptop, have all the features etc are completely and utterly irrelevant to the discussion of the viability of tablets.. tablets are not meant to, don't have to and are not designed to.. they serve a particular computing niche.. i know it's hard for many here to understand but the thing is that most people simply don't require all the power, complexity and don't want to put up with all the bs and maintenance of a traditional computer and a tablet completely fulfils their computing needs.. others it fulfils their computing needs most of the time and it a better form factor most of the time so it still provide utility and value.. you're think about it bass akwards.. it's not about replacing a laptop.. that's irrelevant.. it's about meeting needs, providing utility and value.. why am i going to buy a device that is more complex, requires more maintenance, is not ideal to use in many typical scenario in my life.. just to get a bunch of features i don't use anyway.. it doesn't make sense for most people..
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @DoctorSpoc The iPad maybe but the iPad 2 isn't likely to have out sold Honeycomb Tablets 8 or 9 to 1. I think a lot of people will be surprised by the numbers when these companies release them and when 3.2 / LTE roll out these tablets will start to sell more.
        slickjim
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @Doctorspoc I read the IDC report on another site and their numbers have the iPad at 56% of the Market and Android Tablets at 25% with Samsung leading the way.

        These numbers do not include book readers but if they did then Android would probably be closer to 40% or more (Hardly the blowout you were claiming).
        slickjim
      • hardly anyone buy tablets 3G/4G tablets..

        @Peter Perry.. from Apple's numbers WiFi tablets outsell 3G tablets almost 4 to 1.. no one with two brain cells to rub together is going to get a data plan on a tablet.. even the non-apple manufactures have wizened up.. new galaxy tab.. wifi only out first.. hp touchPad.. wifi tablet out first.. people don't want a data plan for a device that most people use 95% of the time in their home or hotel etc.. places that have WiFi.. people that use tablets know that they don't make very good mobile device (devices used on the go) they are really very good portable devices though.. your cell phone is more than adequate on the go and tablets get used when you get where your going.. that's why almost no one wants 3G or 4G tablets.. they really don't make a lot of sense for most.. and that's REAL reason why android tablets are not going anywhere.. they will not have carriers propping them up like android phones.. hard selling them, putting them prominently on display, subsidizing them etc.. android tablets will simply not be getting the exposure of andorid phones because people don't want 3g/4g tablets and carriers don't want to sell them unless they are sold with a data plan.. android tablets will not sell like android phones for that very simple reason.. no free exposure, advertising, subsidies etc.. they need to stand on their own and against the juggernaut that is apple they stand little chance.. go to best buy and you see the non-apple tablets in the tablet ghetto just like you see the non-iPod MP3 players in the MP3 player ghetto..
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @Doctorspoc. Apparently you missed the part where IDC noted that Android Tablets are at 25% of the market and closer to 40% with the Nook thrown in there so going nowhere is a gross understatement... Apple had roughly 8 months lead on the first competitive Android Tablet and 16% is not a huge gain.

        as for 3G / 4G you're wrong, consumers don't want 3G but they do want 4G and as more of these come to market you will see people scooping them up. Crud, I could see a lot of people going to more basic phones and using a Tablet for the net as they travel.
        slickjim
      • that 35% is shipped tablets.. not actually sold to customers..

        @Peter Perry.. read again.. how many of those non-Apple tablets are collecting dust on store shelves? lots by the look of it.. we see for example that RIM is estimated to have only sold approx. 1/4 of the tablets shipped.. and they didn't ship that many and announced layoffs... Samsung refused to release actual number of galaxyTab sold to customer.. only shipped.. and we know that Apple sells as many iPads as they can manufacture...<br><br>iPads share of tablets actually in customer's hands is still in the area of 90-95%..<br><br><a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/ipad-share-2011-3" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.businessinsider.com/ipad-share-2011-3</a>
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: Tablet shipments below lofty expectations, says IDC

        @Doctorspoc Don't just read news, go see for yourself, there are bunches of the iPad 2 sitting on store shelves as well and honestly, I don't see a ton of these other tablets on shelves... Do I see some? sure but not a crazy amount like you want people to believe.

        Anyway, you can stick to speculation and I will stick with what I see with my own 2 eyes.
        slickjim