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Computer tablet shipments are forecast to surpass total PC sales in 2015

Last week tablets were launched - including Apple's iPad Air and iPad mini and Nokia's first Windows tablet, the Lumia 2520 - to boost the global tablet market, which is expected to surpass PCs this year.

According to International Data Corporation's Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, shipments of tablets passed PCs, including desktops and portables, this quarter.

PC shipments are still expected to be greater than tablet shipments for the full year, but IDC forecasts tablet shipments will surpass total PC shipments in 2015.

Smartphones will continue to ship in high volumes, reaching 1.4 billion units in 2015 and accounting for 69 per cent of all smart connected device shipments worldwide.

The worldwide smart connected device market for PCs, tablets and smartphones is forecast to surge 27.8 per cent this year, slightly slower than 30.3 per cent last year. The growth will be driven by tablets and smartphones, while the PC outlook has been lowered by 10 per cent for this year.

IDC forecasts that worldwide smart connected device shipments will continue to soar, surpassing 2 billion units by 2015. Total PC shipments accounted for 28.7 per cent of the smart connected device market last year while tablets were 11.8 per cent and smartphones 59.5 per cent. By 2017, total PCs are expected to drop to 13 per cent, while tablets will contribute 16.5 per cent and smartphones 70.5 per cent to the overall market.

iPad Air and the new iPad mini

The iPad Air is the latest generation of Apple's category defining device, featuring a 9.7-inch Retina display. It is 20 per cent thinner and 28 per cent lighter than the fourth generation iPad.

The iPad mini with Retina display brings all the pixels from the 9.7-inch iPad to its 7.9-inch screen, delivering razor-sharp text and detail in the same thin and light design.

The new iPads feature the powerful and power-efficient Apple-designed A7 chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, ultrafast wireless with faster built-in Wi-Fi and expanded LTE cellular connectivity, and the newly-designed iOS 7 featuring hundreds of new features.

Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. said iPad created an entirely new mobile computing experience and the new iPad Air is another big leap ahead. The iPad Air with its 9.7-inch Retina display weighs just one pound and packs the performance of iOS 7 running on a 64-bit, desktop-class Apple A7 chip, and delivers all-day battery life in the lightest full-sized tablet in the world.

iPad customers have access to the App Store, which offers more than 475,000 apps designed specifically for iPad.

The iLife suite of creative apps, including iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand, and the iWork suite of productivity apps, including Pages, Numbers and Keynote, are essential to the Apple experience. They are now free with every new iOS device running iOS 7 and are also available as free updates for existing users.

All apps have been redesigned to match the look and feel of iOS 7, have been optimised to support 64-bit technology and include hundreds of new features.

Nokia Lumia 2520

Stephen Elop, executive vice president for devices and services, said the Lumia 2520 unveiled at Nokia World was designed to work anywhere, with a 10.1-inch HD display that is designed to provide the best outdoor and indoor readability of any tablet.

The 2520 combines 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, a 6.7MP camera, and for the first time ever on a tablet, Zeiss optics, letting people take beautiful pictures even in low light. It runs on Windows RT 8.1 for a highly personal and easy-to-navigate experience, and features multiple colour choices and fast-charging capability, providing up to an 80-per-cent charge in one hour.

The 2520 comes with unique software experiences that are exclusive to the Lumia family, including the exclusive "Dragons Adventure" interactive game developed in partnership with DreamWorks Animation.

The 2520 pairs with a unique and stylish accessory offering a great set of benefits - the Nokia Power Keyboard. With Microsoft Office and Outlook preinstalled, getting more done on the go is easier than ever.

Ovum's comment

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said it seems as though Apple is trying to push prices for iPads back up again after they've dropped steadily over the past year. Both devices should sell very well, especially over the holiday period, but Apple held off being as disruptive as they might have been by pricing them relatively high.

The mini and Air have top-of-the-line specs and start at US$399, meaning that the minimum price for a high-performance iPad has actually gone up. The iPad 2 and mini will remain on sale at lower prices, but with significantly less appeal given the gap in specs between them and the new iPads.

"This is the clearest statement Apple could have made that it is only interested in competing in the premium tablet space. The yawning gap between the specs of the cheaper iPad mini and iPad 2 and the new iPads signifies that it is only willing to compete at the lower price points with older models.

"This leaves a huge chunk of the tablet market unserved by Apple while others such as Google, Amazon and a raft of others aggressively target the sub-$400 market. This reinforces our view that Apple's share in tablets will continue to fall as Android's share rises over the coming years."

Game not over

IDC expects lower-cost devices to drive interest worldwide and help spark uptake among first-time buyers in commercial sectors like education.

A new round of device cannibalisation is also expected to kick in, but this time with large-screen (5+ inch) smartphones beginning to impact the smaller (7-8 inch) tablet market.

"The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalisation impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalising PC sales," said Bob O'Donnell, programme vice president for clients and displays.

"Over the next 12-18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called 'phablets', will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets."


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