The global fever for tablet PCs is slowing down; even market leader Apple is forecast to see a decline in shipments and the white-brand market might experience zero growth, according to WitsView Technology Corp., an LCD market research firm.
The research firm has adjusted its forecast for 2014 global tablet PC shipments downward to 205.5 million units, implying that this year's growth might be lower than 5%. Apple is expected to see its tablet-PC shipments decline for the first time ever this year, to some 68.4 million units, WitsView predicted.
Factors leading to the slowdown include a cooling of the feeling of "freshness" among consumers, and their wait-and-see attitude about price-cutting competition among vendors. The market share of tablets is also being eaten away by large-size phablets and low-priced notebook PCs.
Y.B. Chiu, WitsView's senior research assistant V.P., said that Apple's tablet shipments in the second quarter are expected to have hovered at the low level of about 13 million units and that second-half shipments are also expected to be flat despite the company's plan to launch a version-change model. Chiu added that there is no sign of any major upcoming price-cutting promotions by vendors; as a result, global shipments of tablet PCs this year are expected to see their first annual decline since the iPad was launched in 2010, to about 68.4 million units, down from 74.3 million in 2013.
Shipments by South Korea's Samsung, the world's No. 2 tablet PC vendor, are forecast to grow by 14% this year, to about 48 million units. WitsView pointed out that Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro is not so price-friendly, and that the firm's combat model Galaxy Tab Lite has too many similar competitors in the market.
Amazon and Google used to launch their high cost/performance (C/P)-value tablet models in the third-quarter, the traditional peak season for consumer-electronics products, but this year their new-product planning seems to be more conservative. Among global tablet PC brands, Taiwan-based Asus has become an eye-catching player since its tie-up with Intel in the tablet PC business gave it a more advantageous position in terms of cost.
Sales of white-brand tablets in emerging markets are also flat. Chiu cited the example of China, where the 4G issue and the government's subsidy program are affecting sales of the mainly Wi-Fi-based tablets. On the other hand, he added, more and more wearable devices are being introduced by vendors, encouraging spending by consumers and eating into the tablet market. As a result, he said, white-brand tablet PC sales are expected to see zero growth in 2014.
| Global Tablet PC Shipments (2013-2014)
|| 2013 Volume
|| Market Share
|| 2014 Volume(f)
|| Market Share
|| YoY Change
|| 74.2 million
|| 68.4 million
|| 42.1 million
|| 48.0 million
|| 196.3 million
|| 205.5 million
| Source: WitsView
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