CSS Tablet Forecasts

cssinsight.pngCSS Insight have some interesting forecasts for tablet shipments. They claim that tablet sales will double over the next four years as more first-time users appear and existing owners replace older models.

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They also say Windows will claim a larger market share. I think this might even happen. People in our ‘IT world’, most of which now use Macs and Macbooks,  under-estimate the reach of Windows. However, in the ‘real world’ many people still use PCs. Take a look at NetMarketShare browser stats that cover 40,000 sites across the world. A very large number of people are still using Windows.

Allied to this are Microsoft’s new strategies. They already give away Windows free to OEMs on low end devices. They have also promised to upgrade Windows 7/8 free of charge when Windows 10 ships. The start menu will also make a comeback. In the longer term, these changes might help consolidate and retain existing users onto Windows 10 and sell more tablets. However, I still believe Windows on phones is probably a lost cause.

Beacons Need Content

prismatic.pngThere’s a thought-provoking story at prismatic that explains Why the beacon revolution has been postponed. I worked on an iBeacon client project (on Android) this past year and some of the observations are similar to mine.

If you don’t know what beacons are, at their simplest, they are just Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices that don’t need conventional Bluetooth pairing. This means iOS and Android devices can easily detect them and apps can perform actions when they are detected. The (i) in iBeacon is mainly only a Bluetooth custom packet (data) format defined by Apple, an extra interpretation of the signal strength as a range of intermediate, near and far and the ability of iPhones themselves to become beacons. Hence, (later) Android devices can also see iBeacons and the signal strength can be used to determine range.

Back to the story, Tim Dunn says that beacons need a lot more than installing small beacon devices into stores or venues. The system requires "wholesale changes in data management, user identification, merchandizing, messaging and the build of a new set of CRM rules". It "requires commitment in CRM and content generation".

I agree with Tim. It’s not just about installing beacons and creating the iOS and Android apps which can be (human) resource intensive in themselves – although 3rd parties now offer SDKs and backend systems to ease integration. The clever and innovative parts are in associating the right business objects (Stores, venues, rooms, products, even people) with beacons and continually creating appropriate and timely content. The last part, "continually creating appropriate and timely content" can be hugely (human) resource intensive and I think there are many opportunities in this area to automate content generation for specific industry areas.

Tablet Growth Slowing

idc.gifIDC have new research showing that tablet growth is slowing significantly. It also shows Android is expected to have 67.7% market share this year and iOS 27.5% market share. IDC explain that the decrease in tablet shipment growth is being caused by people holding on to their devices. Ironically, this is due to OEMs updating the OS to keep it fresh, especially on iOS.

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I also suspect tablets aren’t replaced as often as smartphones because they are not tied to carrier contracts. The carriers are good at promoting replacement at the end of contracts. Also, they tend to not have as ‘wild’ a life as phones and are less likely to to need replacement due to being damaged or stolen.

Android White Box Tablets

strategyanalystics.gifStrategy Analytics has new Q3 2014 research on World tablet shipments. Android reached an all-time high of 72% of the market while iOS declined 13% to 22.3% market share.

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29.9% of Android’s 72% market share is "white box" manufacturers. A white box tablet is produced by a company (the manufacturer or ODM) that other companies (the vendors or OEMs) re-brand to make it appear as if they made them. These are a big threat to the well-known brands and are increasing being sold by retailers under their own made-up brand names. Many work very well and I have even used some as a basis for client, vertical single-use ‘kiosk’ style products. The down side is that the OS rarely, if ever, gets updated and for developers there’s usually a lack of Android adb drivers.