Tablet Adoption To Continue To Slow in 2015

Sales of tablets will continue to slow in the new year, though the devices will still grow 8 percent over 2014 numbers to reach 233 million shipments, according to a new forecast from market research company Gartner.

That drop is a continuation of a slowdown in 2014.

"The collapse of the tablet market in 2014 was alarming," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "In the last two years global sales of tablets were growing in double-digits. The steep drop can be explained by several factors. One is that the lifetime of tablets is being extended — they are shared out amongst family members and software upgrades, especially for iOS devices, keep the tablets current. Another factor includes the lack of innovation in hardware, which" discourages customers from upgrading.

In a news release, the company said it expects vendors at the Consumer Electronics Show this week to announce new partnerships designed to lead to innovative, personalized apps. Gartner also said it expects to see improvements in cognizant computing "to help the vendors' relationships with consumers evolve from passive providers of hardware to in-sync with the user," according to Atwal. "Beyond an enriched computing experience for the user, this next phase of the personal cloud will also help make the vendor and customer’s relationships more personal, with services and advertising automatically tailored to consumer demands."

The total device market, which includes tablets, desktop and laptop PCs, "ultramobile" notebooks and mobile phones, is forecast by Gartner to grow 3.9 percent over 2014 shipments, to reach approximately 2.5 billion shipments.

Traditional PCs, including both desktop and laptop, will continue to decline over the forecast period, falling from 279 million devices sold in 2014 to 259 million this year and just 248 million next year.

Aside from tablets, growth in the device market will be pushed by mobile phones and ultramobiles.

Mobile phones will improve from about 1.84 billion shipments in 2014 to nearly 1.91 billion this year, a 3.7 percent growth rate, and 1.97 in 2016. Ultramobiles, which include devices such as the MacBook Air, will reach 62 million shipments this year and 85 million next, according to Gartner, up from about 39 million in 2014. Other hybrid devices and clamshells will contribute as well, growing from 6 million units sold to 9 million in 2015 and 11 million in 3016.

"The smartphone market is becoming polarized between the high- and low-end market price points," said Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "On one hand, the premium phone with an average selling price at $447 in 2014 saw growth dominated by iOS, and on the other end of the spectrum you have Android and other open OS phones' growth area in the basic phone segment, where the average phone costs $100. For the midrange smartphones, the market opportunity is becoming increasingly limited."

Among operating systems, Gartner predicts that Android will continue to dominate the market, riding a 26 percent year-over-year growth rate to ship more than 1.45 billion units in 2014 and nearly 1.62 billion in 2016. Android topped 1 billion sales for the first time in 2014, with almost 1.16 billion shipments.

Android's closest competitor, iOS and Mac OS, will also see significant growth according to the research firm, growing from 262.6 million in 2014 to 279,4 million this year and 298.9 million in 2016.

Windows will close the gap from third place, reaching 355 million units shipped this year and 393.3 million next year, up from about 330 million shipments in 2014.

All other operating systems will see a decline from 626.4 million shipments in 2014 to 3680.5 million in 2015 and 261.2 in 2016.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].