Gartner: Longer-lived devices causing tablet slowdown

Tablet sales will slow in 2014 as hardware buyers favour alternative devices, and others extend the life of their tablets

Analysts at Gartner have revised forecast growth in tablet sales for 2014 down from 23.9% to 11%, as users increasingly extend the lifetime of their tablet devices, and others turn to alternatives.

In July 2014, Gartner reckoned tablet sales would top 250 million units for the year. It now believes the actual figure will be closer to 229 million units.

Gartner identified a slowdown in sales of basic ultramobiles, new sales of iPads and Android tablets, and a growing trend of extending tablet lifetimes – predicted to be an average of three years by 2018.

This will remove 90 million net new tablets and 155 million replacement tablets from the market through to 2018, according to Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.

“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," he said.

Global combined shipments of all devices – PCs (desktop and notebook), tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones – are still on course to hit 2.4 billion in 2014, up by 3.2% on 2013.

The traditional PC segment will decline by 7% from 296 million units in 2013 to 276 million in 2014, while ultramobiles will grow by 68% to 37 million units, although this will not be enough to arrest the decline in the PC market.

Mobile phones will account for the lion’s share of worldwide device sales, up by 3% from 1.8 billion units in 2013 to 1.85 billion in 2014.

Gartner said strong sales of low-end and utility smartphones would account for the bulk of this growth, with the market clearly favouring Chinese suppliers offering good value for money, compared with premium suppliers such as Apple and Samsung.

This factor will also see the expansion of affordable smartphones in emerging economies, where increased uptake will see smartphones account for 71% of all mobile phones sold in 2014, up by 17% on 2013.

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