Just days after BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins predicted the demise of tablets within five years, new market research has surfaced to mock his stance. According to IDC, worldwide tablet shipments continue to surge, growing 142.4 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2013.
Tablet shipments totaled 49.2 million units in the first quarter, surpassing that of the entire first half of 2012. With growth fueled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices, tablets have shown no sign of slowing down.
"Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple," said Tom Mainelli, research director for the Tablets division at IDC. "In addition, by moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March."
Even Surface is Selling
Apple shipped 19.5 million units, compared with an IDC forecast of 18.7 million units, in the quarter. Samsung, the No. 2 vendor, also performed above expectations and managed to grow its shipments as the company's smaller-sized tablets start seeing market traction.
Asus moved into the No. 3 vendor spot as it continued to see tablet shipment demand from the Google-branded Nexus 7 device. But, with Google's I/O conference right around the corner and expectations of an imminent device refresh, IDC said the company will need to find a way to sustain its momentum. Amazon fell to the No. 4 position, once again the victim of a highly seasonal product cycle.
Microsoft entered the top five for the first time as shipments of its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets combined for a total of nearly 900,000 units. Many of those units were Surface Pro, IDC reports. Beyond the Surface products, Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets from other manufacturers continued to struggle to gain traction in the market. Total combined Windows 8 and Windows RT shipments across all vendors reached 1.8 million units.
"Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market," said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC's Mobile Device Tracker program. "However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond."
Was Heins Right?
Jeff Kagan, a wireless analyst in Atlanta, told us BlackBerry CEO Heins was right and wrong on tablet growth -- the tablet market will continue to grow, but growth will look much different in the next few years.
"The rapid rise of the tablet sector has many wondering what's next. I see the tablet market continuing its rapid growth for a while longer. Then it will slow and remain consistent, for a while. Tablets are too useful for too many people so they won't just disappear unless something else comes along to take its place," Kagan said.
"I think what Heins is saying is that BlackBerry will compete in one of the two wireless segments. They will compete for users who don't use the cloud to store and share information between devices. That will still be a big market and will keep BlackBerry plenty busy for a while. However, I don't see the tablet market going away anytime soon."
Posted: 2013-05-02 @ 10:58am PT
W O W! 5 years sure passed quickly. I guess I slept in!