iPad leads surge of branded tablet shipments in 2014

by David Needle

March 20 2014

Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Lenovo, Amazon, and others are among the big brand tablet makers expected to see an uptick in sales in 2014. 

Not all of these brands will see anything close to the success of Apple’s iPad line, but overall a new report by ABI Research says to expect 200 million branded tablets to ship this year, a 20% gain from last year when 166 million shipped.

“We don’t see Apple losing its leadership in tablets, no one else is even close, Samsung is still a distant second,” ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr told TabTimes.

Another trend, bigger screen tablets, is going to take a while to take hold.

“We haven’t seen the pendulum swing back to bigger tablets yet. The iPad mini and mini with Retina display solidified the shift to smaller display tablets,” says Orr.


That said, Orr sees no where to go but “up” in terms of size for tablet makers (outside of phablets that are considered a different category). He thinks 2014 will a year in which companies evaluate the large screen Windows tablets and other like Samsung’s 12.2-inch Pro series, but shipments won’t really take off until 2015.

Whitebox versus brand tablets

Internationally the research firm does see a lot of change with a growing number of regional and so-called white box tablets designed for specific regions gaining in popularity.

Meanwhile, ABI Research predicts North America will drop below 50% of all branded tablet shipments for the first time this year.

(To compare with other resarch firms' projections, see TabTimes' The State of the Tablet Market free online report)

Orr notes that Intel wants to power 40 million tablets this year and he expects the vast majority of those will be Android (not Windows) sold outside the U.S.

“One of the greatest opportunities this year is for development, manufacturing and marketing of tablets on a regional and even local level, which shakes up the vendor ecosystem of the past four years,” he said.

Orr said this is where Android figures to be dominant because it is so customizable and not vendor-specific. “You can easily offer the Google related services on an Android device and make it specific to a country or region. Or you look at places like China where Google services are frowned upon or perhaps not allowed at all, they can still use Android to create a new app ecosystem.”

Branded versus unbranded

So if there are going to be 200 million branded tablets shipped this year, how many “unbranded” or no-name tablets.

Orr says that’s a tricky number to get right because there are so many so-called white box vendors in places like China that are hard to track. He also notes that estimates based on the number of tablet chipsets ARM says it licenses can be misleading.

“In China for example, we see devices using the ARM chipset that don’t have WiFi or only have a six-inch display. Those don’t fit our definition of a tablet,” he said. 

(For more news, trends and insights about the the tablet market, sign up for the free Tablet Business/Productivity Update newsletter)

David Needle is Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley
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