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Downward trajectory continues for tablets, 2-in-1s - unless they're cellular

By Heather Wright, Mon 1 Jun 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Worldwide shipments of tablets and 2-in-1 devices are forecast to decline 3.8% this year following two consecutive quarters of declining sales, according to IDC.

The industry analysts had previously forecast a 2.1% growth year on year for the market.

IDC now says it expects 221.8 million tablets and 2-in-1s to be shipped this year, rather than the earlier prediction of 234.5 million.

But while the overall market is in decline, IDC says some segments of the product category are poised to experience strong growth with cellular-capable tablets and 2-in-1 devices experiencing ‘important’ growth in certain parts of the world.

“We think this represents a huge opportunity for the entire tablet ecosystem,” says Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC research director for tablets.

“Those cellular-connected devices fill multiple needs for vendors and carriers around the world; they offer a quick solution to price and margin erosion and when compared to smartphones, they offer a less expensive way for carriers to increase their subscriber base.”

While cellular-capable tablets and 2-in-1 devices still represent a small portion of the entire market, that is expected to grow in 2015 and beyond, with IDC forecasting a five-year compound annual growth rate of 5.6%.

In comparison, Wi-Fi-only devices are expected to experience a negative five-year compound annual growth rate of -0.4%.

Ryan Reigth, IDC program director for worldwide mobile device trackers, says a transition around the size of displays has also begun to take its course, with the share of small-screen tablets expected to drop from 64% of the market in 2014 to 58% in 2015.

That number is expected to continue to decline – reaching just under 50% by 2019.

“This illustrates the direct impact phablets are having on the market, as users with larger screen smartphones have tended to have less need for a tablet with a screen size comparable to their smartphone,” Reith says.

“This also has some impact on overall average selling prices, as larger screen devices tend to cost more,” he adds. 

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