KEY POINTS

  • The tablet market is in decline. Shipments contracted for the second consecutive quarter at the start of 2015, declining by 6% year-over-year (YoY). 
  • We estimate very modest annual growth over the next five years, driven by enterprise uptake and low-cost device sales. We expect global tablet shipments to grow at a slow 2.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2015 and 2020, reaching just 281 million units shipped at the end of the forecast period. 
  • The marquee tablet — the iPad — has seen shipments decline for five consecutive quarters. In the first quarter, iPad shipments declined 23% YoY, the product's worst quarterly decline ever. 
  • Meanwhile, the market is being overrun by generic, low-cost devices. These white-box tablets now make up 43% of all tablet shipments, up from a 25% share just a year ago. Apple and Samsung have ceded a combined 10 percentage points of market share over the last year. 
  • For added context on just how far the market has fallen, in 2011, annual global tablet shipments growth surged to 305%. Just three years later, in 2014, total tablet shipments growth for the full year slowed to just 8%.
  • The enterprise serves as the tablet's last-chance market, but it won't completely reverse the outlook for the device. Tablets will make up just 4% of total enterprise device activations by 2018, even after growing faster than all other enterprise device segments. 
  • Even in the US, a more tablet-friendly market, tablet penetration in the enterprise is minimal. Just 18% of companies claim they already have tablets in use, though another 50% say they have plans to deploy tablets this year. 

Our global tablet market forecast

We have revised down our tablet shipments projections for what was once the fastest-growing consumer electronics category, after sustained contraction in the tablet market over the past two quarters.

  • Our new forecast estimates that the global tablet market will grow about 6% this year, to 250 million shipments. We originally forecast 16% growth in 2015, with 335 million units shipped.
  • 2014 was the year tablet shipments growth came to a sudden halt and the market began to plateau. Going forward, we see slight annual shipments growth over the next few years until 2020, when total shipments for the year will actually decline for the first time ever.
  • Between [...]