The Sony Xperia Z2 tablet. (Image: Sony Mobile).
The Sony Xperia Z2 tablet. (Image: Sony Mobile).

Published: September 2nd, 2015

Research firm IDC has revised its forecast for global tablet shipments downward for 2015, based on further weakness across the board.

The latest forecast from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker projects that tablet shipments (including 2-in-1 devices) will decline by eight per cent in 2015, compared to the year previous, for total shipments of 212 million. That’s a notable slowdown from IDC’s previous forecast of 3.8 per cent.

According to IDC, the overall tablet market has been on a steadily declining trajectory for the last 18 months or so, the 2-in-1 segment is gaining some traction as OEMs get more serious about entering the market. It’s still low volume and at a higher price point than pure tablets, but IDC is projecting 2-in-1s to grow by 86.5 per cent in 2015, with 14.7 million units shipped.

“In the past, the biggest challenges with 2-in-1 devices were high price points, less than appealing designs, and, quite frankly, lack of demand for Windows 8, which was the OS most devices were running,” said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. “With more OEMs offering devices in this segment, prices have started to come down significantly. We estimate that over 40 different vendors shipped 2-in-1 products in the second quarter of 2015, which is up from just 14 vendors two years ago. With the launch of Windows 10, the introduction of more Android-based products, and the possibility that Apple will unveil a larger, screen-detachable iPad, this is the space to watch.”

It could be the commercial market that drives growth for the 2-in-1 market. IDC says the space has been slow to adopt tablets due to an unclear value proposition but that may change with 2-in-1s, although they’re not seen yet as a true PC replacement.

“Commercial segments will play a crucial role in the future of 2-in-1’s,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets with IDC, in a statement. “It will take some time but we expect that once IT departments are done evaluating Windows 10 and the awaited iPad Pro, they will start migrating some their portable PC and tablet installed base towards 2-in-1’s, which will accelerate the adoption of the form factor. So far, this category has been the led by Microsoft with its Surface product line. But with the arrival of the iPad Pro, the launch of Windows 10, which is better suited for the 2-in-1 form factor, and the introduction of Intel’s Skylake silicon, we expect a flurry of new devices to launch between now and December 2015.”

Meanwhile, the average selling price for slate tablets is expected to drop below US$300, driven by a wealth of low-cost Android models on the market.

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