Global shipments of hybrid devices are forecast to reach 21.5 million units in 2015, up 70 percent from 2014, according to new research from Gartner, Inc. These devices are expected to account for 12 percent of total sales of mobile PCs this year, and reaching 26 percent of total in 2019. This pegs hybrid devices as the fastest growing segment in the mobile PC market this year. The strong growth bodes well for electronic components suppliers that serve the computer/mobile device markets.
However, despite strong growth for hybrid devices, Gartner analysts still expect clamshells to remain the mainstream form factor, holding 87 percent of the mobile PC market in 2015 and 74 percent in 2019.
Gartner defines mobile PCs as either notebooks or ultramobile premium devices. “A notebook is generally 14 inches and larger with a clamshell form factor. An ultramobile premium is generally 10 inches to 14 inches, thinner and lighter with three form factors — clamshells, hybrids and tablets.” Hybrid form factors include convertible and detachable products.
"Of the 21.5 million hybrid devices shipped in 2015, 8 million will be ultramobile tablets (two-in-one tablets) and 13.5 million hybrid ultramobiles (two-in-one detachable and convertible ultramobiles). This will make hybrid ultramobiles the fastest-growing segment of the mobile PC market with 77 percent year-on-year growth," said Tracy Tsai, research director at Gartner, in a statement.
"The combination of portability, productivity and flexibility of touch and a keyboard in one device is attracting some notebook and tablet users to replace their devices with hybrid form factors," she continued. "PC vendors are expanding into this segment with a value proposition to compete with Apple and Android-based tablet vendors. Sales of hybrid devices have not stopped growing since 2012, totaling 12.6 million units in 2014 and expected to reach 58 million units in 2019."
The Gartner report, "Competitive Landscape: Hybrid Ultramobile Devices (Two-in-One Notebooks and Tablets)," also shares results from a survey of more than 21,000 PC users in five countries – U.S., China, Brazil, India and Germany. The survey found that “11 percent of tablet users, 10 percent of desktop users and eight percent of notebook users are considering replacing their current device with a hybrid device in the next two years.”
In the enterprise segment, there doesn’t appear to be a case for hybrid ultramobile use because the PC installed base is primarily Windows 7 and legacy applications are not touch-based, said Gartner. "However, this will change when businesses start to migrate to Windows 10," according to Tsai. "Windows 10 on hybrid ultramobiles will offer a better user experience with touch and voice as well as universal Windows apps — apps written just once that receive device-specific user experience tweaks to allow them to run on different Windows devices."
“Businesses will also need to prepare for the end of extended Windows 7 support by January 2020. It is now a good time to look beyond the clamshell notebook to consider if other form factors will make a better productivity fit,” she added.
The top players in the market are Asus, Lenovo, HP and Microsoft. Here is Gartner’s analysis:
Asus was the No. 1 hybrid ultramobile device vendor in 2014 with 41 percent market share, and the first vendor to introduce two-in-one ultramobiles. Asus shipped 3.1 million hybrid ultramobile units in 2014, up 263 percent year on year. Analysts’ takeaway: To keep up its market share, Asus needs to increase investment in convertible-type hybrids with smaller screen sizes of less than 13 inches, and broaden the price bands it addresses. Currently, hybrid ultramobiles are accounting for 15 percent of Asus' mobile PC shipments in 2014, the highest mix ratio among all PC vendors.
Lenovo ranked number two in 2014 with 1.9 million shipments of hybrid ultramobiles, an increase of 331 percent year on year. Analysts’ takeaway: Lenovo focused its hybrid strategy on expanding into the consumer market, and increased its share of hybrid ultramobiles in North America from 6 percent in 2013 to 31 percent in 2014. Similarly in Western Europe, Lenovo’s hybrid ultramobile market share grew from 16.5 percent to 27 percent from 2013 to 2014.
HP ranked number three in the hybrid ultramobile market in 2014 with 800,000 unit shipments. Analysts’ takeaway: In 2014, HP significantly expanded its product line in this segment with a broad range of consumer models across a variety of price points, from $199 to $1,999. This enabled the company to rise from the No. 7 position in 2013.
Gartner classifies Microsoft's Surface as a tablet ultramobile not a hybrid ultramobile because the touch-and-type keyboard is optional. Analysts’ takeaway: In the ultramobile tablet segment, Microsoft was No. 1 with 36 percent market share in 2014. Combining the ultramobile hybrid and the ultramobile tablet, Microsoft was No. 3 with 14 percent market share worldwide, just behind Asus and Lenovo.