Tablet demand wanes as smartphones, notebooks take over
Michelle Clancy
| 01 October 2014
Despite their potential for second-screen engagement and video distribution, global tablet PC demand is slowing and shipments are forecast to grow only 2% year-over-year in 2014.

NPD-Tablet-ForecastAccording to NPD DisplaySearch, 254 million tablet PC units will ship in 2014, which is less than the 14% growth NPD DisplaySearch previously forecast. Driven mainly by replacement cycles, tablet PC demand will continue to grow by single digits through 2018, while the average tablet PC screen size is expected to increase from 8" in 2014 to 9" in 2018.

"Leading brands are changing their business plans, because the rapid growth that tablet PC demand has experienced over the past several years is ending," said Hisakazu Torii, vice president of smart application research at NPD DisplaySearch. "We can expect to see more competitive overlap among display sizes for tablet PCs, notebook PCs and smartphones, as Apple has announced its new iPhone 6 Plus with an increased screen size of 5.5"and Microsoft has introduced its new Surface Pro 3 models with 12" screens."

Shipments of 7" to 7.9" tablet PCs will be cannibalised somewhat by 5.5" and larger smartphones. The unit share of 7" to 7.9" tablet PCs is forecast to decline from 55% in 2014 to 35% in 2018. Shipments of tablet PCs with 11" and larger screens will rise from 2% in 2014 to 14% in 2018, as tablet PCs directly compete with smaller notebook PCs with screen sizes up to 13".

Due to the ongoing PC refresh cycle, continued Windows XP migration, and the introduction of low-priced Windows-based notebook PCs and Chromebooks, NPD DisplaySearch also said that it expects a recovery in the global notebook market with an additional 179.6 million units shipping in 2014.

"The decline in notebook PC demand is expected to level off in 2016, with flat or slow growth thereafter," Torii noted. "Consumer acceptance of the Windows 9 user interface will be the key to continued notebook PC demand growth."