Commentary

Tablet Shipments Overtake Worldwide PC Shipments In 2014

Tablets will nearly out-ship half of the world's PC shipments in 2014 -- defined as tablet, notebook and desktop combined, according to one independent analyst firm, which lumps the three devices into the PC category. This market worldwide rose 18% this year.

Tablet PC shipments accounted for 40% of PC shipments in the third quarter -- less than half a million units behind global notebook shipments, according to Canalys. The company estimates that 285 million units will ship in 2014 -- rising to 396 million units in 2017 -- and that Apple and Samsung will lead the tablet market.

The growing trend in tablet purchases and the fact that consumer behavior on these devices increasingly looks similar to that on the PC will make way for more effective rich media and paid-search ads. It could also give way to a combined paid-search and product listing ad similar to what we have seen in texts from Google and Bing. Marketers will need to know the nuances of optimizing for multichannel and multimedia campaigns, which we will discuss at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit, Dec. 8-11, in Park City, Utah.

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Apple has maintained its top vendor position throughout 2013, and the launch of the iPad Air and new iPad mini should strengthen that position this quarter, but Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Coulling doesn't give market estimates. He tells us that Apple's priority to remain profitable throughout the company outweighs increasing market share.

Some of that market share could spill into Microsoft's coffer. Coulling estimates that Microsoft will take 5% of the tablet PC market in 2014, up from 2% in 2012. "2014 will see another major shift for the company as the Nokia acquisition brings it a step closer to being a fully-fledged smart mobile device vendor," he wrote in a blog post. "As a vendor Microsoft needs to prove to channel partners and consumers that it is in this market for the long haul. Balancing the coopetition with its vendor partners and embracing a 'challenger' rather than an 'incumbent' mentality is essential."

The report suggests that devices running the Google Android operating systems will help to grow the market. Canalys estimates this will take 65% share in 2014, with 185 million units.

Samsung continues to lead. In Q3 2013, it had a 27% share of Android tablet shipments. On the other hand, the hundreds of small-to-micro brand vendors in established and high-growth markets and international players such as Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Hewlett-Packard will begin to decline.

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