Tablet PC Quarterly Shipments Fall for the First Time – NPD DisplaySearch

NPD DisplaySearch’s Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report provides more evidence that sub-8-inch tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad mini, Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire 7 are about to get hammered on the low end by larger-screen smartphones (aka “phablets”), and on the high end by larger-screen tablets.

NPD DisplaySearch projects that demand for 8-11” tablet PCs will overtake smaller sizes by 2018. The market metrics firm reports that while shipments of notebook PCs in Q1’14 were better than expected due to the commercial PC refresh cycle and Windows XP migration, shipments of tablet PCs while a still-impressive 56 million declined year-over-year for the first time, with many brands reporting weak tablet PC shipment results in Q1 due in part to delayed launches of new products. NPD DisplaySearch has consequently lowered its forecast for tablet PC shipments in 2014 to 285 million.

“Tablet PC demand in 2014 is being affected by falling demand for the 7” class in emerging regions and in China, where many local white-box brands have experienced lower-than-expected shipment growth,” says Hisakazu Torii, vice president, smart application research at NPD DisplaySearch. “Most major brands have recently reduced their business plans for 2014. There is a risk that the replacement cycle for tablet PCs will lengthen beyond the one to two year range unless brands can develop more attractive usage scenarios.”

NPD DisplaySearch observes that for the past several years, tablet PCs and smartphones have been the primary growth driver in the smart device category, but that in 2014, the Y/Y growth rate of tablet PCs will fall to just 14% and by 2017 will slow to single digits.

NPD DisplaySearch expects that competition between 5.5” and larger smartphones and 7-7.9” tablet PCs will reduce demand for tablet PCs through 2018. They report that unit share for 7- 7.9” tablet PC displays peaked at 58% in 2013, but it will gradually decline in 2014 and beyond, simultaneously with major brands are likely to shift their focus and marketing efforts to larger size tablets, with shipments of 8-10.9” tablet PCs projected to overtake 7-7.9” tablet PCs by 2018. In addition, NPD DisplaySearch expects 11” and larger tablets will exceed 10% of the market by 2018. “The increase in screen sizes will help increase tablet PC revenues.” Torii notes.

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