We are all aware that the global market for personal computers has been rapidly decreasing over the last few years. In 2013, shipments declined over 10% and another decline is expected in 2014. Many analysts have explained that one of the main reason for this brutal shift is the increasing interest of consumers for tablets and smartphones.
In the past couple of years, the tablet market has seen an exponential growth after the introduction of the iPad and subsequently of the growing offering of devices from other manufacturers (leveraging the Android or Windows platforms).
Still, the last financial quarter reported by Apple (leader in the tablet segment), has showed a rapid deceleration of the number of iPad sold when compared to previous quarters and years. Total shipment in units is basically flat.
Obviously, many factors could explain this decrease such as seasonality, that consumers are already in the category and wait for the next upgrade, or that competition is stronger. It might just be a bump along the road.
Another interesting avenue to consider in order to explain this change, is that differences between tablet and smartphones are increasingly getting smaller. Smartphones’ screens are getting bigger (the iPhone 6 is expected to have a significant larger display), the computing power between the devices is insignificant for consumers and apps are getting smarter had leveraging the smartphone real estate to provide useful and agreeable experiences. Smartphones are also much more convenient to carry around and are usually cheaper. Tablets have also not yet replaced the desktops as many users still prefer to work on their computers in their daily job. Even with the recent launch of Microsoft Office for iOS, the tablets don’t provide the same level of features and ease of use.
It will be interesting to see how clever developers can find additional and unique ideas where the form factor of a tablet would play a unique advantage and fuel the category. Also the rapid evolution of hardware might refresh the appetite of consumers. Still, it seems that only by offering a series of benefits which are significantly different than the one from traditional PCs, laptops or smartphones, that tablets will continue to create their unique positioning in the marketplace and stay a must have product. Right now and in the future, the smartphone is a real threat.