Tablet Sales Down – Possible New Opportunities

idcIDC has new research that shows that while tablet sales are declining, detachable tablet sales are growing fast “because end users are seeing those devices as PC replacements”.

idctabletsq42015
This might provide opportunities for Android and iOS developers. Users will be looking to do more desktop-like tasks on their detachable tablets. There might be some opportunities if you can identify applications on the desktop not yet well-served on tablets and create iOS/Android apps that make great use of the keyboard.

Latest Mobile Market Research

I continue to regularly update my mobile market research site. Recent additions include…
  • IDC: Worldwide Tablet Market Continues to Decline; Vendor Landscape is Evolving
  • Counterpoint Research: Chinese Brands Dominate As Huawei Becomes The Third Largest Mobile Phone Brand Globally For The First Time
  • IDC: Worldwide Smartphone Market Posts 11.6% Year-Over-Year Growth in Q2 2015, the Second Highest Shipment Total for a Single Quarter
  • CA and Oxford Economics: The Battle for Competitive Advantage in the App Economy
  • Argus Insights: US Consumer Smartphone Demand is Plummeting Despite the Introduction of Flagship Phones

Tablets, Phablets and Whether To Design for Larger Screens

IDC has some new research that shows that the tablet market has continued to contract due to competition from alternative devices…

idctabletshipmentsq12015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does this mean for developers? At first sight it might mean that it’s less viable to create tablet-specific apps or tablet-specific screens layouts. However, the IDC research suggests that “Cellular-enabled tablets are outgrowing the rest of the market”. Statistics from Flurry show that these devices, better known as phablets, tripled their share of active users over the last few months…

flurryphabletsmarch15

However, if you compare iOS and Android then the latter has by far the larger proportion of phablet users…

phabletsiosvsandroid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The large proportion (36%) of phablet users on Android suggests that particularly Android developers should still be considering how to make the most of larger screen sizes.

Tablet Growth Has Flatlined

idc.gifIDC has new research into tablet shipments and as a result has now reduced the forecast up to 2019. Android currently remains the leader with an expected 67.4% share this year while iOS is expected to have 25.6% share. Windows trails at 7%. The following chart shows how growth has flatlined…

idctabletshipmentsgrowth.png 

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.

csssalesoftablets.png 

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.

Tablet Shipment Growth Slowed

gartner136.gifGartner has some new research and forecasts for tablet (and PC) shipments. The initial growth in tablet sales has slowed considerably.

gartnertablets2014.png

Despite this, tablet shipments are still growing and tablet shipments are now of the similar order as desktops. The above table shows that Android tablets might see a larger share of the growth in the coming years.

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.

strategyanalyticstabletsq32014.png 

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.

Does OS Market Share Matter?

gartner136.gifGartner has new research that compares sales of PCs, tablets and smartphones across the respective operating systems. The headline is that tablet sales are slowing. However, does it matter?

The ever insightful Benedict Evans also has a new post where he explains that we are in the uncharted territory where a minority market share is still very large. He talks of the potential fallacy of "winner (platform) takes all" and suggests that we should look at other things such as the geographic region we are targeting.

Benedict talks a lot about developer revenues and geographic region when choosing a ‘mobile first’ platform and concludes…

"It isn’t so much that ‘maket share doesn’t matter’ (the mantra of Apple fans for decades’) as that you need to think about what kind of market share, where, and whether that matters."

I’d advise you to think and analyse even deeper. I find the emphasis on app revenues and market share slightly concerning. People should be think more about the benefit to their company. This benefit can take many forms. Whether an app is financially viable depends on the kind of app/company as much as it does the platform.

Taking Benedict’s examples of Citibank, Tesco and Carrefour they don’t even sell their apps nor use store in-app purchasing. The fact that iOS users are more affluent probably doesn’t matter for Tesco and Carrefour as iOS customers might be shopping at, at least in the UK, John Lewis and Waitrose anyway. Conversely, I very much doubt many Citibank customers use Android and they would prefer iOS. The key thing here is that these are hunches and guesses.

You need to assess what platform to use on a case-by-case basis and do some market research beforehand as to what devices your users are using and whether they would access your product/service via an app, smartphone, tablet or indeed anything else.

Back to the Gartner headline that tablet sales are slowing. Does it matter? Sales are still of a similar order to PCs and it’s still a large market. What’s probably just as important is whether your end users would access via a tablet and if so, what kind of tablet are they using?