San Mateo, Calif. – Global shipments of tablets will continue to grow over the next five years, which is good news for electronic component manufacturers supplying the mobile device market. Worldwide tablet shipments are expected to reach 221.3 million units in 2013, up 53.5 percent over the previous year, according to International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. However, these numbers are down slightly from the previous forecast of 227.4 million.
IDC projects that shipment growth will slow to 22.2 percent year-over-year in 2014, reaching 270.5 million units, and start to slow to single-digit growth percentages in 2017. Shipments will peak at 386.3 million units by 2017, which is down from IDC's previous forecast of 407 million units.
One trend component makers should watch is the mix of small versus large tablets. While the market has trended toward the small tablets over the past two years, the rise of larger phones could push consumers back to larger tablets because the size difference between the two aren't significant enough to warrant purchasing both, said IDC.
"In some markets consumers are already making the choice to buy a large smartphone rather than buying a small tablet, and as a result we've lowered our long-term forecast," said Tom Mainelli, research director, tablets, in a statement. "Meanwhile, in mature markets like the U.S. where tablets have been shipping in large volumes since 2010 and are already well established, we're less concerned about big phones cannibalizing shipments and more worried about market saturation," he further stated.
A trend towards larger tablets would benefit Windows tablets, although Windows-based tablets are not expected to steal market share from tablets running iOS and Android until later in the forecast, said IDC.
"For months, Microsoft and Intel have been promising more affordable Windows tablets and 2-in-1 devices," said Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst, Worldwide Tablet Tracker, in a statement. "This holiday season, we expect a huge push for these devices as both companies flex their marketing muscles; however we still don't expect them to gain much traction. We're already halfway through the holiday quarter, and though there have been some relatively high-profile launches from the likes of Dell, HP, and Lenovo, we've yet to see widespread availability of these devices, making it difficult for Windows to gain share during this crucial period," he further stated.
Tablets versus mobile PCs
Tablets are expected to ship in higher volumes than mobile PCs in 2013, according to Strategy Analytics. Similar to IDC's forecast, Strategy Analytics expects tablet shipments to reach 231 million units in 2013, compared to 186 million mobile PCs. The report, "Mobile Computing Device Cannibalization: The Game Has Changed", also indicates that this trend will continue through 2017.
"The tablet has become firmly ingrained in the consumer mindset, and is now seen as one of the key go-to devices for consumers who want to undertake computing tasks on a mobile device," said Matt Wilkins, director, Tablets and Wearables, in a statement. "As a result, the processors architectures, operating systems, and form factor of the tablet are playing dominant roles in the MCD space."
"Apple, Google, and Microsoft are in a three-way battle for the mobile computing device," said Strategy Analytics, "which by 2017 will see Google operating systems account for over 40 percent of MCD shipments."
"The influence of the tablet on the mobile PC is clear to see, with new form factors such as 2-in-1's being introduced in the PC market," said Peter King, director, Tablet and Touchscreen Strategies (TTS), in a statement. "These new form factors are delivering some of the most interesting innovation we have seen in the PC market for some time."