Tablet sales fall off cliff, break ribs

Tablets on life support

John Davidson

The growth in tablet sales is facing a precipitous decline this year, according to the research company IDC, because people like you and me are holding onto our iPads waaaaay too long.

Worldwide sales of tablets will grow by only 7.2 per cent in 2014, down from 52.5 per cent growth last year, IDC said.

And if it wasn't for Android tablets, the market would actually be shrinking. Total sales of Apple's iPads will actually fall by 12.7 per cent in 2014, down to 64.9 million units, IDC said, while Android tablet sales will grow by 16 per cent to 159.5 million of the things.

'In the early stages of the tablet market, device lifecycles were expected to resemble those of smartphones, with replacement occurring every 2-3 years,' said IDC's Ryan Reith in a statement.

'What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years,' he said.

Also, the fact that mobile phones are getting bigger and better hasn't helped tablet sales none.

'We believe the two major drivers for longer than expected tablet lifecycles are legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks,' Mr Reith proclaimed.

A bright spot, at least in terms of sales growth if not sheer numbers, is in the sales of Windows tablets, IDC said. Those will grow by 67.7 per cent this year, though of course the only way was up for them: even with such growth, only 10.9 million Windows tablets will be sold in 2014, accounting for 4.6 per cent of the overall market of 235.7 million tablets.

If IDC has its numbers right, the outlook for Apple's iPad isn't all that rosy out to 2018, either. The compound annual growth rate of iPad sales between 2014 and 2018 will be -1.1 per cent, IDC predicted, compared to 38.1 per cent for Windows tablets and 5.9 per cent for Android tablets.

If the only way is up for Windows tablets, then it seems the only way for iPads is down.

The Australian Financial Review


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