Tablets set to explode in emerging markets as global PC sales keep falling

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Tablets use is set to rapidly escalate in emerging markets as their hunger for smart connected devices continues to grow.

According to tech research company IDC, the smart connected device volume in emerging markets grew by 41.3% in 2012 with the tablet volume growing by 111.3% and smartphone volume by 69.7% year on year. Desktop and portable PC shipments meanwhile shrank by 3.8% and 0.8% respectively.

The upward growth of tablets and smartphones in emerging markets is likely being driven by the increasing availability of affordable devices among populations with increasing amounts of disposable income. That kind of growth is less surprising when you bear in mind that, aided by huge numbers of cheap, locally produced Android devices, China has already overtaken the US to become the world’s largest smartphone market. India and Brazil meanwhile aren’t far behind.

“In emerging markets, consumer spending typically starts with mobile phones and, in many cases, moves to tablets before PCs,” said Megha Saini, Research Analyst for IDC’s Worldwide Smart Connected Device Tracker. “The pressure on the PC market is significantly increasing and we can see longer replacement cycles coming into effect very soon and that, too, will put downward pressure on PC sales.”

By way of contrast, combined tablet sales in mature markets grew by 15.6% while the PC market saw a huge plunge. IDC reckons that by 2017, global tablet shipments will have increased by a factor of three with a shipment value of US$125-billion while smartphone unit shipments are expected to double and reach a shipment value of US$462-billion.

Global Smart Device Shipments

Going forward, IDC expects that tablet shipments will surpass desktop PCs in 2013 and portable PCs in 2014. In 2013, worldwide desktop PC shipments are expected to drop by 4.3% and portable PCs to maintain a flat growth of 0.9%. The tablet market, on the other hand, is expected to reach a new high of 190-million shipment units with year-on-year growth of 48.7% while the smartphone market is expected to grow 27.2% to 918.5-million units.

Looking forward, IDC predicts the worldwide smart connected device space will continue to surge with shipments surpassing 2.2- billion units and revenues reaching US$814.3-billion in 2017. “Consumers and business buyers are now starting to see smartphones, tablets, and PCs as a single continuum of connected devices separated primarily by screen size,” added Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President for Clients and Displays. “Each of these devices is primarily used for data applications and different individuals choose different sets of screen sizes in order to fit their unique needs. These kinds of developments are creating exciting new opportunities that will continue to drive the smart connected devices market forward in a positive way.”

In terms of market share meanwhile Apple significantly closed the gap with market leader Samsung in the quarter, as the combination of Apple’s iPhone 5 and iPad Mini brought Apple up to 20.3% unit shipment share versus 21.2% for Samsung. On a revenue basis for the fourth quarter, Apple continued to dominate with 30.7% share versus 20.4% share for Samsung.

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