Hybrid tablet, laptop market to remain limited, says IDC

Hybrid tablet, laptop market to remain limited, says IDC

Summary: The convertible device market that is expected to carry the PC market will remain flat in terms of market share through 2018, according to IDC.


Inexpensive smart connected devices are expected to dominate shipments through 2018 and hybrid tablet-laptop convertibles will remain stagnant, according to IDC data.

Overall, smart connected device shipments are expected to approach 1.8 million, according to IDC. Smartphone growth will lead, but IDC cut its estimates for 2-in-1 devices based on a weak first quarter. IDC projects 2.4 million smart connected devices will ship by 2018.

IDC argued that mobile-first approaches are dominating computing and it's hard to argue with that point. What IDC's data tells me is that the PC industry is betting on the wrong horse with the concept of laptop and tablet hybrids. Nevertheless, tools like Microsoft's Surface keep launching. There is a market for those hybrid devices and I'm often intrigued. However, that market isn't going to lead to a lot of growth.

This chart tells the tale as smartphone shipments trump PC shipments 6 to 1 in 2018.

idc connected 1

The other big takeaway is that emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil will dominate growth going forward. As a result, IDC said that we are entering the world of $200 and less devices.

Also see: Surface Pro 3: A brilliant, quirky, nearly flawless laptop replacement

idc connected 2

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

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  • Good thing

    Good thing analysts have never been wrong, or I would not believe the charts. /s
    • Fan boys vs analysts

      I think the analysts win in the vast majority of cases. They are at least trying to be objective and use market data. Armchair quarterbacking just makes one look petty and ignorant.

      When you try to predict the future, you will be wrong to a grater or lesser extent most of the time. That does not mean that forecasts and predictions based on market research have no use or value.

      Of course, shooting the messenger is the easiest solution when one does not like the message.
      • Different Interpretations of Same Data

        While the data trends may be correct how you interpret them is what is really subjective. Note that this graph is on percent. It just shows shifts in the market but not real growth. The authors interpretation of flat does not mean sales will stay the same but the percentage of a growing over all connected market is the same. That I can believe.

        I think however by 2018 it will be hard to tell a portable PC from a tablet. Also smart phones will just keep getting smarter and will become portable PC/tablets/???. Categories may be good for now the points that differentiate them today will change.
        • That's the Key Thing I Noticed

          Perhaps the units sold prediction is found in the paid version of the report.

          The information above is not normalized for profit per device class. If the profit on the hybrid is approx. $100, then a company selling one of those is at the same place as a company that sell 20 of their cheap devices with $5 margins. Meanwhile, the first company only has to find one customer while the other has to find 20. Meaning? Well, one doesn't have to be selling gazillions of things to be successful.

          Hybrids are also meant to offset declines in the pc market and are marketed by traditional pc OEMs. By merging them with tablets in the graphic, we don't see whether their share change offsets the decline in laptop and desktop pcs, i.e., we don't see whether or not IDC endorses the strategy's effectiveness.

          If one just went by the graph's colored areas, one would say that people who used to get pcs will be getting smartphones. (As I was making a proof run, but after I wrote this paragraph, I see FDanconia devalues the summary on this very point.) To make sense of that, one has to believe that smartphones are a better fit for the job to be done among the people who will form the current and expanding market being projected. This, too, makes sense if one accepts that communication, not computation, is the more important human task.

          Again, I expect more granular data points and analyses are in the full report that goes to the paying customers.
  • Does this even make sense?

    So, it looks like from the IDC charts that folks are replacing their desktop PCs and laptops with smart phones.


    Let's see . . . Here is another chart that projects toaster sales to grow briskly while power drill sales is stagnant! Those power drill companies are betting on the wrong thing!

    Is it really meaningful to put smartphones and PC's on the same chart? Smartphones are an entirely different category. If you take smartphones out, you see Tablet + 2 in 1 growing in market share at the expense of desktop and laptop PC's. There's a shocker!

    More interesting would be to break out Tablet's and 2-in-1's separately and project those. That's really where the question of "Is Surface a good idea?" becomes relevant. But not in this chart.
  • Poor analogy

    Power drills and toasters can NEVER be substitutes, full stop.

    For many basic users however (and there are millions and millions of them), if all they ever used a PC for was browsing the web, looking at some photos/video's, reading/sending some simple e-mails and doing on-line shopping/banking, a smart phone, and in particular a phablet (I hate that name) can easily replace a PC or laptop. With a connection to a TV you can even watch HD movies with friends and family. In other words, in SOME usage scenarios, PCs/laptops and smart phones can easily be substitutes.

    So yes, does make sense if you just apply a little bit of logic and a basic understanding of users' needs.
  • Phones are more disposable

    Phones get changed out more often than tablets, hybrids, laptops or desktops. We expect our main computing devices to last longer. People like to change phones more often and this is raising the number of phones sold.