Slow Q2 Tablet Shipments Show Need For Refresh Cycle

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Global tablet shipments decreased 9.7 percent for the second quarter of 2013, according to an IDC report released Monday, but the drop came as no surprise.

Though sales were down from the first quarter of 2013, a broader perspective shows the 45.1 million units shipped in the second quarter of this year was up 59.6 percent from the same quarter in 2012, IDC said.

Apple shipped 14.6 million iPads in the second quarter of 2013, down from the 19.5 million shipped in the first quarter. Samsung also experienced a decrease, though slightly less than Apple, shipping 8.1 million tablets in the second quarter, down from 8.6 million in the first quarter. In contrast, Lenovo and Acer both advanced tablet sales: Lenovo shipped 1.5 million devices, for a 313.9 percent increase from the previous year, and Acer shipped 1.4 million, up 247.9 percent from the previous year.

[Related: The 10 Coolest Tablets Of 2013 So Far]

The bottom line, tablets may be experiencing a slight decrease between quarters, but the change is not an indicator of tablet relevance, IDC said. According to the market research firm, sales are expected to increase again once companies like Apple and Amazon release new hardware, most likely around the holiday season.

"We could just be getting to a certain point now where we are seeing saturation in the market place," said Bob Nitrio, owner of Orangevale, Calif.-based solution provider Ranvest Associates. "We have to get into a refresh cycle where something significant changes."

Though IDC noted in its report that new iPad launches tend to bolster tablet interest not only in the Apple brand but also in competitors, Nitrio said he is hesitant to put so much weight on the Cupertino vendor.

"I don't know that Apple is the gauge to tell whether or not the market is healthy," Nitrio said. He said that in order for a device to come into the enterprise and be productive, it has offer something more than what is on the market. Nitrio said he suspects if Windows 8 is improved upon, Windows 8 Pro could that next productive thing.

"I don't think Microsoft originally had the right approach. If we can overcome resistance to the Windows 8 interface and actually make it appealing to those using XP or Windows 7, that could be key," Nitrio said.

Android-powered tablets are still hot items on the market, according to the IDC report. Samsung held strong in the second quarter, landing it in second place among tablet vendors with 18 percent of the market share, followed by ASUS, Lenovo and Acer, holding 4.5 percent, 3.3 percent and 3.1 percent respectively. ASUS, Lenovo and Acer all sport Android- and Windows-based tablet options in their lineups.

Ultimately, Nitrio said tablets as content consumption devices are approaching their limit. "Moving from tablets that can just consume information to a real productivity tool, that would be the next big push."


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