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Tablet shipments could overtake PCs in 2015

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November 4, 2013

Tablet shipments are expected to grow 53.4 percent in 2013 according to Gartner (Photo: Sh...

Tablet shipments are expected to grow 53.4 percent in 2013 according to Gartner (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Amongst the fawning and feting around the launch of the first Apple iPad in 2010, there were murmured questions about just what niche and purpose the device would fulfill. Turn the clock forward to 2013 and those murmurs have long since ceased, with the latest research from Gartner suggesting that the upward trajectory of the tablet market could see the number of units shipped overtake PCs in 2015.

Three years is a long time in technology and the rise of the tablet is a case in point. "I was nervous when they first started talking about this and thought it would be nothing more than a giant iPhone,” said Gartner Analyst Van Baker on the launch of the iPad back in early 2010.

But Gartner did suggest that Apple’s entry to the tablet market might kick-start growth and, three years and down the line, it expects worldwide shipments of tablets to hit 184 million units in 2013. The figure, cited in research carried out by Gartner in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the US and Japan, marks an increase of over 53 percent from last year and, although growth is expected to slow slightly, a further 43 percent increase in shipments is forecast in 2014. Gartner explains that the devices market (PCs, tablets and mobile phones) is being driven by a shift to lower-priced devices in nearly all categories and, if the trend continues, there will be more shipments of tablets than PCs in 2015.

Worldwide Device Shipments by Segment (Source: Gartner)

As a result of the boom in consumer demand for mobile devices, the PC market is in continued decline. Shipments of PCs (desktops and laptops) are expected to shrink at an average of 9 percent year-on-year between 2012 and 2014. Both Windows and iOS / Mac OS will see growth over the same period, but Windows is expected to stagnate at 2 percent average year-on-year growth whilst iOS / Mac OS will see growth of 21 percent. In 2014, Windows and iOS / Mac OS are expected to have 14 percent and 15 percent share of shipments respectively, and, if trends continue, iOS / Mac OS will pass Windows in 2015.

Mobile phones comprise the largest segment of the devices market, accounting for an expected 82 percent of device shipments in 2013 rising to 86 percent in 2014. The biggest beneficiary of this in terms of operating systems will be Google, whose Android platform is forecast to grow at an average rate of 32 percent year-on-year between 2012 and 2014. By 2014, Android is expected to be installed on 45 percent of all devices shipped – more than Windows and iOS / Mac OS put together.

Gartner expects the largest growth area to be in the relatively new segment of "ultramobile" devices – devices that can offer the same functionality as a PC but that can be used on the move like a tablet. It cites the Apple Macbook Air as a good example.

"While consumers will be bombarded with ads for the new ultramobile devices, we expect their attention to be grabbed but not necessarily their money," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Continuing on the trend we saw last year, we expect this holiday season to be all about smaller tablets as even the long-term holiday favorite — the smartphone — loses its appeal.”

One final interesting point to take from Gartner’s report is the impact it expects wearable devices like smartwatches to have on the market. The report predicts that less than 1 percent of consumers will replace their mobile phones with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet by 2017.

"For wearables to be successful, they need to add to the user experience by complementing and enhancing what other devices already offer," explains Milanesi. "They also need to be stylish yet practical, and most of all hit the right price. In the short term, we expect consumers to look at wearables as nice to have rather than a "must have," leaving smartphones to play the role of our faithful companion throughout the day."

Source: Gartner

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds.   All articles by Stu Robarts
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4 Comments

Every time I see an article comparing Tablet sales to PC sales, I have to wipe the tears away from side-splitting laughter. It's such a stupid worthless irrelevant comparison. The devices serve TOTALLY different purposes and needs. There are enormous swaths of computing that are covered by PC's that can never and will never be matched by tablets. I really don't understand the insistent persistent overwhelming desire of article writers to make this comparison.

PimplyDykBallz
4th November, 2013 @ 08:38 pm PST

maybe they should do comparisations like

tablet vs netbook vs notebook

smartphone vs normal mobile phone

MG127
4th November, 2013 @ 10:36 pm PST

Ok, first of all, how can they possibly count the millions of self-built PC's?

Second, tablets and PC's are not mutually exclusive. Like another user above mentioned, they are comparing apples and oranges. I may as well announce that digital wrist watches could overtake PC's by 2015.

The only people who are fooled by companies such as Gartner are the ones who have invested massively into the tablet market and tablet OS's thinking that between 2015 and 2020 there won't be PC's in existence anymore.

Tablets remains primarily a reading and social interaction device and no one can do any serious work on it without a proper keyboard, screen and mouse. PC gaming is picking up again due to upcomming devices such as Oculus Rift and the great games that are being released on a weekly basis for PC, not even mentioning the thousands of low-cost indy games and many free MMO RPG's and simulator orientated games.

Peter Lloyd
5th November, 2013 @ 12:20 am PST

Yeah because programmers love developing on tablets... PC's will never go away. The only reason why sales are dropping is due to fact that not every numbskull who bought a PC needed one and only used it to check their email and chat. Now those people are buying other worthless social networking devices. I guess it explains who this article is really directed towards; someone who thinks Desktops are comparable to tablets. Its like saying a single application is the same a system.

I will never own a tablet because its redundant.

bullfrog84
5th November, 2013 @ 12:53 pm PST
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