Big-Screen Smartphones Pilfer From Tablets’ Success

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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Smartphones with large screens – such as the Samsung Galaxy Note –  are starting to take their toll on sales of tablet PCs.

That comes from preliminary data via International Data Corp.’s (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

"The rise of large-screen phones and consumers who are holding on to their existing tablets for ever longer periods of time were both contributing factors to a weaker-than-anticipated quarter for tablets and 2-in-1s," said Tom Mainelli, IDC program vice president, devices and displays. "In addition, commercial growth has not been robust enough to offset the slowing of consumer shipments."

Worldwide tablet plus 2-in-1 (tablet/PC) shipments slipped to 50.4 million units in the first quarter, IDC said. That’s a decline of more than 35 percent from the high-volume holiday quarter before it. It’s less than 4 percent growth from the same period a year ago.

The slowdown was felt across operating systems and screen sizes and likely points to an even more challenging year ahead for the category, IDC said.

As more manufacturers produce smartphones with screen sizes of five and six inches or even larger, it’s no wonder why the tablet market might be slipping a bit. And if Apple delivers a rumored 5.5-inch version of its iconic iPhone this fall, it could be even more of a struggle for tablets.

Speaking of Apple, the Silicon Valley giant maintained its lead in the worldwide tablet plus 2-in-1 market, shipping 16.4 million units. That's down from 26 million units in the previous quarter and well below its total of 19.5 million units in the first quarter of 2013. Despite the contraction, the company saw its share of the market slip only modestly to 32.5 percent, down from the previous quarter's share of 33.2 percent.

Samsung once again saw a nice uptick, growing its share from 17.2 percent to 22.3 percent in just one quarter. its worldwide share, increasing from 17.2% last quarter to 22.3% this quarter. Rounding out the top five were ASUS (5 percent), Lenovo (4.1 percent), and Amazon (1.9 percent), IDC said.

As far as operating systems go, two-thirds running tablets are Android, IDC noted. Windows’ share remains small, but they are gaining traction.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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