The Shifting Tablet Landscape
Tablets are sure to be a on the minds of shoppers come black Friday, and with BYOD/BYOT in full swing, we’ll undoubtedly see more tablets in the enterprise when the holidays are over. So let’s take a quick look at how the market is moving.
"After a very strong second quarter, Apple saw growth slow as both consumer and commercial (including education) shipments declined, and rumors of a forthcoming iPad mini began to heat up," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets at IDC. "We believe a sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter in anticipation of an announcement about the new iPad mini. Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter. However, we believe the mini's relatively high $329 starting price leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter."
The overall market grew more than 49% on a unit basis. Surging Samsung increased shipments by 115%.
I think Amazon’s Kindle Fire is the sleeper here. It’s a steal at $159, and while its display id not as sharp as the iPad’s, it’s a well-designed device for the money. I find that I use my Kindle Fire much more than my iPad. A lot of that is form factor: the size is just right for reading in bed. Would the Kindle pass the enterprise test? I doubt we’ll ever know. That low price carries close to nonexistent profit margins, since, as CEO Jeff Bezos has said, Amazon doesn’t need to make money when consumers buy a Kindle, Amazon wants to make money when consumers use a Kindle.
With all this growth, 2013 is shaping up to be a barnburner of a year for smart devices. Gartner reports that sales will top $1.2 billion in 2013, accounting for 7- percent of all devices sold.
“For most businesses smartphones and tablets will not entirely replace PCs, but the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies and the way consumers embrace devices,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.
“In 2016, two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone, and 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile,” said Ms. Milanesi. Tablets will be the key accelerator to mobility. Gartner estimates that in 2012 purchases of tablets by businesses will reach 13 million units and will more than triple by 2016, to reach 53 million units.
Of course, next year will see a new player in the tablet market: the Microsoft Surface. Gartner predicts that it will push Microsoft to the number three position for smart device OS in the enterprise, muscling RIM aside.