Global tablet demand is slowing and shipments are forecast to grow only 2% on year in 2014. According to DisplaySearch, 254 million tablet units will ship in 2014, which is less than the 14% growth DisplaySearch previously forecast. Driven mainly by replacement cycles, tablet demand will continue to grow by single digits through 2018, and the average tablet screen size is expected to increase from 8-inch in 2014 to 9-inch in 2018.
“Leading brands are changing their business plans, because the rapid growth that tablet demand has experienced over the past several years is ending,” said Hisakazu Torii, VP of smart application research at DisplaySearch. “We can expect to see more competitive overlap among display sizes for tablets, notebooks, and smartphones, as Apple has announced its new iPhone 6 Plus with an increased screen size of 5.5-inch and Microsoft has introduced its new Surface Pro 3 models with 12-inch screens.”
Shipments of 7- to 7.9-inch tablets will be cannibalized somewhat by 5.5-inch-and-larger smartphones. The unit share of 7- to 7.9-inch tablets is forecast to decline from 55% in 2014 to 35% in 2018. Shipments of tablets with 11-inch-and-larger screens will rise from 2% in 2014 to 14% in 2018, as tablets directly compete with smaller notebooks with screen sizes up to 13-inch.
Due to the ongoing PC refresh cycle, continued Windows XP migration, and the introduction of low-priced Windows-based notebook PCs and Chromebooks, DisplaySearch expects a recovery in the global notebook market with an additional 179.6 million units shipping in 2014. “The decline in notebook demand is expected to level off in 2016, with flat or slow growth thereafter,” Torii noted. “Consumer acceptance of the Windows 9 user interface will be the key to continued notebook demand growth.”