The latest research report from GigaOm Research, “Forecast: Global tablet shipments, 2012-2017,” authored by Peter Crocker, “founder and principal analyst at Smith’s Point Analytics, a full service market research and consulting firm focused on the mobile and wireless industry,” sees a tablet market experiencing a growth slowdown in developed Western markets for good reason. Although, the report observes, “shipments of tablets worldwide will grow at a 29 percent rate compounded annually (CAGR) from 179 million in 2013 to 427 million by 2017,” overtaking PC shipments in 2015, all is not entirely calm seas and plain sailing for the tablet market. The problem is that device manufacturers are beginning to push the envelope in ways that increasingly challenge the tablet form factor itself as it becomes more ubiquitous.
“Although tablet prices are dropping and devices are getting smaller, competition from emerging connected devices such as wearables, ‘phablets,’ and convertible laptops is slowing market growth,” says the GigaOm Research executive summary. “The result of this is that emerging regional markets are becoming the growth drivers for this market.”
This shouldn’t diminish expectations for the U.S. entirely, which “at 64 million units as of 2013,” will remain “the single largest regional market. It will continue at a healthy pace, growing at a 25 percent CAGR to over 140 million units in 2017.” However, GigaOm Research continues, “China and emerging Asian markets will be the growth leaders. Chinese shipments will grow at a 43 percent CAGR. The rest of Asia will grow at a rate of 39 percent.”
This tends to confirm previous IDC research about slowing tablet market growth, but it also backs up other figures showing the growing influence that Asian markets are having on overall mobile device market developments. Asia will be increasingly the pace-setter and demand driver as well as manufacturing hub in the evolving mobile device ecosystems. It also explains more about why Apple is in such a hurry to push out an iWatch and other new varieties of iPhone and iPad. These form factors could already be maturing their way towards obsolescence, and Android has a considerable edge in device diversity, as well as adoption in Asia.