Tablet Growth Now Expected To Be Flat In North America And Europe This Year

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Tablet growth in the North American and European markets will be flat this year, according to IDC. The group revised its estimates after what it called a “second quarter of softer than expected demand.”

The tablet market, which IDC counts as tablets and 2-in-1 devices, will grow by a slim 6.5 percent globally. In 2014, around 233 million tablets and 2-in-1 devices will be sold, according to the group.

A number of things emerge from the above: Tablet sales won’t catch PC sales for a lenghty period of time. Yearly PC sales have roughly stabilized around the 300 million unit level, meaning that tablet sales will likely have to grow by a large percentage to meet PC sales, which, as the new numbers indicate, will not be easy.

Another point of context: Quarterly smartphone sales are substantially larger than yearly tablet sales, a gap that is increasing. Tablets, regardless of what was thought, are the smallest of the PC, tablet, and smartphone troika. And as only smartphones of the group are growing quickly, we shouldn’t expect the internal ranking order to change much.

Could tablet sales begin to decline in mature markets? Negative growth in mature tablet markets would shift all growth pressure to emerging markets. It isn’t clear if those other areas could grow enough to expand net tablet volume in that context

I think that if we had all sat around a table in mid-2013, and asked ourselves if PC sales would stabilize as quickly as they have, and tablet sales growth would slow as quickly as they have, we would have laughed at the idea. That’s not to say that tablet sales aren’t a large part of the consumer hardware market, just that they appear to one of more minor import than we might have anticipated.

A final thought: When do smartphone sales peak?