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

Published: May 28th, 2015

Worldwide shipments of tablet computers will decline in 2015, although cellular-connected tablets and 2-in-1 devices will remain sources of strength.

According to IDC Corp.’s recent Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, worldwide tablet and 2-in-1 device shipments are expected to reach 221.8 million units in 2015, a decline of 3.8 per cent over 2014. IDC revised its forecast for 2015 downward from its earlier forecast of 2.1 per cent growth, following two consecutive quarters of declining sales.

While the overall market may be receding, IDC does see some areas of strength.

“We’re seeing cellular-capable tablets and 2-in-1 devices experience important growth in certain parts of the world and we think this represents a huge opportunity for the entire tablet ecosystem,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets with IDC, in a statement. “Those cellular-connected devices fill multiple needs for vendors and carriers around the world; they offer a quick solution to price and margin erosion, and when compared to smartphones, they offer a less expensive way for carriers to increase their subscriber base.”

Cellular connected devices were just 31 per cent of the market in 2014, but IDC projects it growing to 33 per cent in 2015 and to 40 per cent of the market by 2019. Conversely, Wi-Fi tablets, while representing  69 per cent of the market in 2014, are seen declining to  67 per cent in 2015  and to 60 per cent by 2019.

“A transition around size of the displays has also begun to take its course, with the share of small-screen tablets expected to drop from 64 per cent of the market in 2014 to 58 per cent in 2015, and declining to just under 50 per cent by 2019,” said Ryan Reith, program director, worldwide mobile device trackers, in a statement. “This illustrates the direct impact phablets are having on the market, as users with larger screen smartphones have tended to have less need for a tablet with a screen size comparable to their smartphone. This also has some impact on overall average selling prices as larger screen devices tend to cost more.”

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