Tablet Sales Expected To Outperform PC Market: Gartner
June 25, 2013

Tablet Sales Continue To Rise, While Traditional PC Sales Expected To Decline

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Tablets and smartphones are driving up technology shipments – expected to hit 2.3 billion units in 2013, a 5.9 percent increase over the previous year, according to leading information technology research and advisory company Gartner.

Also in 2013, electronics makers are expected to see a 10 million-sale increase of “ultramobiles,” defined as light notebook computers, laptop-tablet hybrids, or similar devices.

"Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products" said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets.”

The jump in ultramobile device shipments is due to notebook and premium tablet upgrades, Gartner said. Shipments of these devices are expected to increase rapidly in the fourth quarter of 2013 and into 2014, when their shipments are expected to hit about 40 million units.

"Although these devices will only marginally help overall sales volumes initially, they are expected to help vendors increase average selling prices (ASPs) and margins," Gartner noted in a statement.

Meanwhile, tablet shipments are expected to hit 202 million this year, up 67.9 percent over 2012, and 277 million next year. Mobile phones also will see a 4.3 percent increase to 1.8 billion units shipped this year and 1.9 billion in 2014.

Despite these growth trends, Gartner suggested phones and tablets could take a hit in sales as consumers try to get more mileage out of the ones they currently own.

"The increased availability of lower-priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices.

"The challenge in the smartphone market is also that, as penetration moves more and more to the mass market, price points are lowering and in most cases so do margins," he added.

With respect to operating systems, Android is predicted to be the winner, with 1 billion devices expected to be shipped in 2014. Android’s dominance includes PCs, smartphones, tablets and ultramobiles. Gartner predicted Windows devices will come in second next year. Apple’s iOS and OS X devices are expected to come in third, with 354 million devices shipped by the end of 2014.

“Although the numbers seem to paint a clear picture of who the winner will be when it comes to operating systems in the device market, the reality is that today ecosystem owners are challenged in having the same relevance in all segments,” Milanesi said. “Apple is currently the more homogeneous presence across all device segments, while 90 percent of Android sales are currently in the mobile phone market and 85 percent of Microsoft sales are in the PC market.”

Many experts point to price as the reason behind Android’s dominance. If Apple were to expand its offerings into lower price points as many predict, it could see bigger growth than what Gartner has predicted for 2014.