Quarterly tablet PC shipments to fall for the first time ever

Quarterly tablet PC shipments to fall for the first time ever

Summary: For the past several years, tablet PCs and smartphones have been the primary growth driver in the smart device category, but that cash cow might be running dry.

TOPICS: Hardware, Microsoft, PCs

While shipments of notebook PCs in the first quarter of 2014 were better than expected, due to the commercial PC refresh cycle and Windows XP migration, shipments of tablet PCs, at 56 million units, declined year-over-year for the first time, according to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report.

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Several top brands reported weak tablet PC shipment results in Q1, partly as a result of new product launch delays, and as a result NPD DisplaySearch has lowered its forecast for tablet PC shipments in 2014 to 285 million units.

"Tablet PC demand in 2014 is being impacted by falling demand for seven-inch-class sizes in emerging regions and in China, where many local white-box brands have experienced lower-than-expected shipment growth," said Hisakazu Torii, vice president, smart application research at NPD DisplaySearch.

"Most major brands have recently reduced their business plans for 2014. There is a risk that the replacement cycle for tablet PCs will lengthen beyond the one to two year range unless brands can develop more attractive usage scenarios."

(Source: NPD DisplaySearch)
(Source: NPD DisplaySearch)

Driving the fall is competition from 5.5-inch-and-larger smartphones which compete against the 7 to 7.9-inch tablet PCs, and is expected to quell demand through 2018.

According to the report, unit share for 7 to 7.9-inch tablet PC displays peaked at 58 percent during 2013, and this now will gradually decline in 2014 and beyond. Big name brands are expected to transition to larger screen sizes, with shipments of 8 to 10.9-inch tablet PCs overtaking 7 to 7.9-inch tablet PCs by 2018.

Also, the report claims that 11-inch and larger tablets will exceed 10 percent of the market by 2018, and that larger screens will help bolster tablet PC profits.

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Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, PCs

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  • Drier not dry.

    Market maturity is normal, doesn't mean it is done it just means the giddy rise is over.

    As you point out the regular PC market isn't done either. I was early on opposed to the idea of "post-PC" and didn't like it when that term was used by zdnet bloggers. As we speak my family is investing in yet another laptop (Windows 8, without a touchscreen too). I will probably replace mine in a year or too. We have a Nexus 7 and a cadre of smartphones: HTC One, Samsung S4 and two blackberry devices one a Z10. Two desktops (one a relatively new gaming system). All our laptops are still in use. The tablet does reduce the amount of laptop usage but when content generation is required the laptop is the goto system. The tablet actually replaces the smartphone more (reducing it to texting and phone calls.)
  • I wonder about the insistence of calling them "tablet PCs"

    Seems to me that it would not only be simpler, but also more accurate, to refer to the category as simply "tablets".

    Assuming the iPad is part of the "tablet PC" grouping, I doubt Apple would like their product being called a "PC", since Apple says their product is part of the "post PC era".

    The term "tablet" would nicely accommodate everything without confusingly referring to an iPad as a type of PC.
    • its all due to the PC is not a Windows/Intel unit

      Even though it is. so just like everyone is a (pick your term) Salesman, Marketeer, Mediaperson, bla bla bla... every device used by a person is a PC. Not really, but you know...
    • The majority of tablet sales are not of the tablet PC kind.

      Tablet PCs are off a separate category from the rest of the tablet mobile device market. Lumping them all together as NPD is doing is just causing more confusion in the market. Not only is it causing confusion lumping it all, it also hides any slumping sales Windows Tablet PCs may be having. Sounds bias and deliberate to me.

      Tablet devices such as the iPad, Android and Kindles etc will outsell PCs come 2015 and I don't think Windows Tablet PCs have much to do with (or help) that outcome.
      • Reality is far different from your fantasy...

        Tablets are not outselling PCs, and they never will. In fact, current figures show that, PC sales are far higher than those for tablets, including the iPads. Tablets may have reached saturation, and they may even experience a drop in sales and usage. PCs that are highly mobile and convertible, will far outnumber the crippled tablets from Apple and from the Android device makers.

        Then, when you add in the regular sales from laptops and desktops to the number of units sold that can rightfully be claimed to be mobile and convertible "PCs", you end up with a number that will be very hard for the "simple" tablets to catch up to. Like the article says, tablets are meeting with a wall, and it's called "saturation", where the people who wanted a tablet, already have one, and those that didn't want one, won't be seeking to own one. It's like the old netbook "craze", where it took off very quickly, and ended up with quick saturation after 1 or 2 years.
    • Because they redifine the term each time to match what they need

      or so it sounds.
  • What is "ultra slim"?

    Maybe this is:

    compared to this:

    Maybe this one:

    The point is, computers are getting smaller, I don't see why we should separate them regarding thickness.