On Tuesday, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) put its new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets out to the public, while Apple, Inc. (AAPL) unveiled its new iPad tablets and said its new Mavericks operating system is available. Information technology research firm Gartner believes that those tablets, as well as those made by others, are going to sell at an even faster pace than last year worldwide.
The new iPad tablet has been named the iPad Air. It’s reported to be 43 percent thinner than its predecessor and lighter (1 pound versus 1.4 pounds in the last generation). In fact, Apple says that the iPad Air is the lightest full-size tablet in the world. The 16 GB version is expected to be out on November 1 and cost $499. The new iPad mini will feature a high definition retina display and an upgraded chip for $399.
The increased tablet shipments will more than offset further declines in PC sales (desktop and notebook combined). PC shipments in 2013 are pegged at 303 million, down 11.2 percent from 2012 shipments.
Tablet shipments are forecast to rise 53.4 percent in 2013, hitting 184.4 million, compared to 120.2 million in 2012. In 2014, tablet shipments are expected to swell another 42.7 percent to 263.2 million. Gartner noted that a recent survey spanning leading countries showed that people prefer smaller tablets and with that believes that premium tablets will continue to feel pressure from price declines in the smaller-screen segment. Nearly half of the 21,500 people surveyed owned a tablet was 8 inches in size or smaller.
Gartner also sees mobile phone shipments rising 3.7 percent to 1.81 billion from 1.75 billion a year ago and then rising to 1.91 billion in 2014. Projecting steady growth for the smartphone market, the research firm believes that the era of high priced phones is ending with the majority of growth in the mid-tier smartphones in developed countries and low-tier smartphones in emerging economies.
Shipments of ultramobile units, which are thin, light computers that function as hybrid tablets, are forecast to climb to 18.6 million in 2013 from 9.8 million last year.
As far as operating systems, Google’s (GOOG) Android will be the top dog by a long shot, with expectations of 879.9 million shipped units utilizing it. That’s up 74 percent from 505.5 million in 2012. In 2014 devices using Android are forecast to climb to 1.12 billion. Microsoft’s Windows will run second, with its shipments expected to decline from 346.5 million in 2012 to 331.6 million. Gartner does expect shipments to perk up in 2014 for Windows operating systems, calling for 363.8 million units. Apple’s iOS/MacOS will be taking market share from Microsoft with shipments growing from 212.9 million in 2012 to 271.9 million in 2013 to 338.1 million in 2014.
Gartner also said that it expects less than 1 percent of consumers to replace their mobile phones with a combination of a tablet and a wearable device by 2017.
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