As could be expected given the supply chain indications, preliminary results indicate that worldwide tablet PC shipments fell Y/Y for the first time. While seasonal weakness and product transitions played a role in the lack of shipment growth, the category is facing serious challenges from the emergence of large screen smartphones.
Worldwide tablet PC shipments reached 56.3 million units in Q1’14 as compared to 59 million units in Q1’13, a drop of 4.6% Y/Y. The first quarter has tended to have the weakest shipment volumes of the year as the market comes down following the fourth quarter, when holiday shipments lead to the highest purchasing period of the year. Still, there has always been growth in tablet PCs, as new models have been released or growth in emerging regions picked up the market; not this time, however.
A slowdown in tablet PC adoption threatens the overall mobile PC market as tablet PC shipments have been the engine of growth for the mobile PC market. The fall in tablet PC shipments contributed to a 5.2% Y/Y drop in shipments for the overall mobile PC market.
This year, many of the major brands shipped fewer tablet PCs in Q1 than in the past, including Apple, Google and Amazon. Even Samsung, the number 2 player by shipment market share, saw only a relatively modest 2% Y/Y growth rate. Supply chain indications suggest that Google’s shipments have been tapering off as the company prepares a new 7” device as well as first 8.9” device for later this year. For Amazon, the expectation is that they will release a 4.7” smartphone in Q4 and will reduce its tablet lineup to include only one 7” device.
Replacing tablet PCs with large size smartphones is expected to be a theme in the coming years, expanding on a trend that has mainly been limited to China. As the emergence of large size smartphones becomes a bigger influence in the U.S., shipments of small size tablet PCs are expected to decline.
|Worldwide Q1’14 Preliminary Tablet PC Shipment Results (000s) by Brand|
Source: NPD DisplaySearch Tablet Quarterly