Tablets to overtake PCs in shipments in second half of 2014

Tablets will overtake traditional PCs in monthly shipments somewhere in the second half of this year, according to the latest projection from Gartner Inc.

The market tracker has pointed to total shipments of 276.7 mln PCs in 2014 compared to 270.7 mln tablets. While that looks like it favors the PC market, it also means that PC shipments will drop from 296.1 mln last year, while tablet sales will jump from 195.4 mln last year. In other words, the number of tablets being shipped every month in the second half of the year would catch up and then exceed the number of PCs.

Next year, a total of 349.1 tablets will be shipped, while only 263 mln PCs will be shipped.

However, the emergence of dual-form tablets-cum-laptops would change the market further.

“Tablet substitution of notebooks will start to dissipate from this year onwards as consumers and businesses align the right device with the right usage pattern. As they do this, we will see where dedicated devices (such as tablets), or hybrid devices (detachable or convertible devices), fit in the overall portfolio of devices,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

Overall, worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are projected to reach 2.5 billion units in 2014, a 6.9 percent increase from 2013, according to Gartner, Inc. Device shipments grew 4.8 percent in 2013. Sales of traditional PCs will continue to hamper the overall growth of devices, and substitution from PC to tablet will decline.


As the overall device market starts to saturate, the increasing pressure on margins will continue, and vendors will look at different ways to cope with the ongoing issue of lower margins, it said.

“While the trend of declining prices is inevitable, consumers increasingly value other features in a device — beyond just the price. For example, new tablet users look for smaller screens and greater portability, while current tablet users look for better connectivity in their tablet replacements.”

Mobile phones, the largest segment of the overall device market, are expected to reach 1.9 billion units in 2014, a 4.9 percent increase from 2013. The growth in 2014 is projected to come from the lower end of the premium phone market and the higher end of the basic phone market.

“While the lack of compelling hardware innovation marginally extended replacement cycles in 2013, we’ve witnessed an upgrade path in the emerging markets. Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, Asia/Pacific and Eastern Europe have all upgraded their phones, which will help to compensate for mature market weakness in the near term,” said Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner.

In the operating system (OS) market), iOS tablet growth has slowed in North America and Apple will need to reinvigorate its replacement cycle. Google’s objective is to increase Android’s footprint, and it is still on target to sell over one billion devices during 2014.