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Sales of Tablets Will Represent Less Than 10% of All Devices in 2014

Published: Oct 15,2014

According to Gartner, tablet sales growth is slowing in 2014 as new hardware buyers users turn to alternative devices and existing users extend the lifetime of their tablets. Tablet sales worldwide will reach 229 million units in 2014, an 11 percent increase from 2013, representing 9.5 percent of total worldwide sales of devices in 2014. In 2013, tablet sales grew 55 percent.

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Worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) for 2014 are estimated to reach 2.4 billion units in 2014, a 3.2 percent increase from 2013 (see Table 1). "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 projects over 90 million fewer new tablet purchasers and 155 million fewer tablet replacements through 2018.

With 18.1 percent of growth expected in 2014, the ultramobile segment is projected to show the highest increase in the overall devices market, and will overtake sales of traditional PCs in 2015. Gartner estimates that sales of traditional PCs will reach 261 million units in 2015, while sales of ultramobiles will amount to 346 million units.

"Some tablet users are not replacing a tablet with a tablet, they are favoring hybrid or two-in-one devices, increasing its share of the ultramobile premium market to 22 percent in 2014, and 32 percent by 2018," said Mr. Atwal.

The mobile phone segment will continue to grow in 2014 due to strong sales of lower-end smartphones. Sales of basic smartphones (including midrange Android devices) are projected to grow 52 percent in 2014, while utility smartphone units (including low-end Chinese white box devices) will double.

"The market is clearly favoring 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.”

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 percent 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 the operating system (OS) market, the emerging markets represent an attractive sector for Android (see Table 3), which is set to grow 47 percent in 2014. In 2015, Gartner estimates that shipments of Android devices will reach over one billion in emerging markets, driven by sales of lower-cost products. Apple's new devices, which target the premium market, will continue to help drive iOS volumes. These devices will benefit from a controlled and integrated ecosystem, a focus on the user experience and a leading enterprise tablet position.

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