Shipments of tablets are struggling as phablets like the iPhone 6 Plus become more popular. Enterprise users, however, may be the tablet’s saving grace, boosting sales of higher-end models like the Surface Pro 3 and the anticipated iPad Pro, which Apple is expected to announce in fall.
This means increased sales of tablets with larger screens (about 11 inches or larger), according to a new report by Strategy Analytics.
The research firm says shipments of large tablets will jump 185 percent year-over-year in 2015. While the iPad Pro, an anticipated larger version of the iPad Air with a 12.9 inch screen, would mark Apple’s entrance into the enterprise tablet market, it faces competition from Surface Pro 3, the most successful tablet in Microsoft’s Surface line so far, and other two-in-one tablets, which have a detachable keyboard, from PC makers such as Lenovo, Acer, and Asus.
Strategy Analytics believes that enterprise purchases (as well as consumer purchases of two-in-one tablets to replaces PCs) will continue to fuel sales of large tablets over the next four years, with shipments almost doubling to 19.3 million units, or a seven percent share of the total tablet market, in 2019. Workers use tablets in retail point-of-sale systems, to create content like websites and presentations, or enter data and access files while doing fieldwork.
Strategy Analytics’ confidence in enterprise tablet sales echo findings in an earlier report by Forrester, which said that more than half of employees use a tablet for work at least once a week, even if they have to bring their own device to supplement their office desktops.
On the other hand, a report this week by IDC said that worldwide tablet shipments will continue to stagnate, even as the popularity of two-in-one devices increases.
Strategy Analytics predicts shipments of smaller tablets (about 7 to 7.9 inches) will continue to lag as consumers spend their money on phablets instead. Strategy Analytics believes sales will drop 15 percentage points to 30 percent of the market. A longer upgrade cycle will also hurt shipments, since many consumers prefer to spend their money on new smartphones or laptops instead of tablets, which are mainly used for social networking, web browsing, and other lightweight applications that don’t require a better processor every year.
Strategy Analytics’ senior tablet and touchscreen analyst Eric Smith said in a statement that two-in-one models, as well as premium tablets like the Surface Pro 3 and iPad Pro, will appeal to industries like healthcare, retail, and education. Some may even replace or complement desktop computers in offices.
“Just as phablets have eaten away at the smaller end of the tablet spectrum, the gulf between PCs and tablets is shrinking every day. Major vendors are pushing the boundaries of all three major mobile operating systems and hardware configurations to transform the tablet into a content creation device,” said Smith.