Longer product life-cycles slow global tablet sales

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Johannesburg - Headwinds face the global tablet computer market which is forecast to experience slowing growth of 7.2% in 2014, down from 52.5% last year.

This is according to International Data Corporation (IDC) research released this week that said global shipments of tablet devices are forecast to hit 235 million units this year.

The IDC blamed this slowdown on a fall in Apple iPad shipments for the full year.

Apple iPad tablet shipments are forecast to shrink by 12.7% this year resulting in iOS having a 27.5% share of the global market. Android devices are expected to grow 16% year-on-year to have a 67.7% share of the tablet market. And tablets equipped with Microsoft Windows are forecast to achieve 4.6% market share.

Longer life-cycles for tablet devices are slowing down the churn in this market, said the IDC. This also means that consumers are hanging onto their tablet devices longer than their smartphone gadgets.

"In the early stages of the tablet market, device life-cycles were expected to resemble those of smartphones, with replacement occurring every two to three years,” said Ryan Reith, Programme Director for the IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement.

“What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than three years and in some instances more than four years.

“We believe the two major drivers for longer than expected tablet life-cycles are legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks," said Reith.

Shipments of tablet and two-in-one devices, which typically include a tablet and detachable device like a keyboard, are growing slightly faster in emerging markets, according to the IDC.

Just over 119 million tablet and two-in-one devices are forecast to be shipped to emerging markets this year compared to 116.4 million units in mature markets.

The IDC further noted that shipments of two-in-one devices specifically are only expected to reach 8.7 million units in 2014, “which is just 4% of the total tablet plus two-in-one market”.

“A large reason for the relatively small uptake has been consumer hesitancy around the Windows 8 platform, which the majority of two-in-one devices are built upon,” noted the IDC.


Two-in-one devices hit SA

Earlier this month, Microsoft South Africa announced that retailer Makro has stocked over 6 000 Nextbook tablet devices.

The Nextbook range sports the full Windows 8.1 operating system and comes in two screen sizes: 8” and 10.1”.

More specifically, the latter device comes with an attachable keyboard, making it fit the two-in-one product range description.

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