It’s clear by now that tablets have become a phenomenon among U.S. consumers. But when it comes to the rest of the world? Not so much.
According to ABI research, of the estimated 145 million tablet devices projected to ship worldwide this year, just over half will be used in the United States. When that market levels off (as it must someday), it will be interesting to see whether the rest of the world stays on the tablet bandwagon or opts for something else, like a smartphone, says ABI senior practice director Jeff Orr.
“It’s not a global phenomenon,” Orr tells Marketing Daily. “Most of the growth is coming from the U.S., and at some point you reach [market] saturation. But what about the rest of the world? Some markets will follow the U.S., but the majority will not.”
Indeed, in many of the larger developing markets (like China and India), it’s simply too soon to tell whether tablets will be accepted as readily as a smartphone or other mobile device, Orr says. (Broadband connectivity and availability will be the predominant drivers for acceptance, he says.) “If we [look at] bring major regions of the world, most of the developing markets are just now starting to get choices [among varied devices],” he says.
Even in the U.S., it’s still not clear that the tablet is the PC-killer some might have expected. “It’s difficult to say at this point that there’s direct cannibalization,” Orr says, adding most of the gains are coming from “multi-device households.” “We’re not seeing a direct replacement where [tablets are] displacing the PC market, but we are certainly seeing a conflict when it comes to budgets. The home PCs are staying in their current state, and they’re not being refreshed as frequently, and the budget for those is going to the tablet.”