Tablet Sales Slow Down; Microsoft Struggles - InformationWeek

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10/16/2014
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Tablet Sales Slow Down; Microsoft Struggles

Tablets are losing some of their luster, but Apple is still selling more devices than Microsoft.

Mac computers. The upcoming slate of ultra-slim hybrid devices with next-gen Intel processors could have more mass market appeal, however.

Outside of tablets and PCs, Gartner expects smartphone growth to continue, with shipments set to hit nearly 2 billion units in 2015. Analysts don't expect this growth to allow more OS players to enter the industry, however. With Android dominating overall market share and Apple solidifying its hold over the high-end market, Gartner concluded it remains "difficult for alternative ecosystems to become more than niche players."

Two-in-one devices such as the Surface Pro 3 have injected some life into the Windows market, but Microsoft's mobile growth continues to trail the competition.
Two-in-one devices such as the Surface Pro 3 have injected some life into the Windows market, but Microsoft's mobile growth continues to trail the competition.

This complexity is reflected in Gartner's projections for the three major computing platforms: Windows, Android, and iOS/Mac. Although there are clear limitations to lumping desktop PCs and smartphones into a single ecosystem category, the shift toward mobile devices has reshuffled which apps and services carry the most cultural and economic sway. Gartner expects Windows to remain the dominant PC OS, but with PCs becoming just one component in multi-device use cases, Microsoft could face challenges if its mobile platforms don't pick up steam.

Earlier this year, Microsoft execs admitted that Windows runs on only 14% of devices overall and pledged to gain more users. The company is currently hedging its bets between the Windows ecosystems and an increasingly cross-platform software strategy.

In mature markets -- where users tend to buy higher-margin devices and invest more in accessories, apps, and services -- Gartner found that Android is the leading OS overall, with over 313 million device shipments projected this year. Apple's ecosystem is expected to finish a distant second in 2014, with nearly 168 million iPhone, iPad, and Mac shipments. Windows shipments are expected to hit 141 million units in 2014.

In 2015, Gartner expects the same pecking order though it projects Apple will gain ground while Windows falls farther behind. The firm estimates device shipments within Apple's ecosystem will expand nearly 9% next year in mature regions, followed by Android with 7.7% growth, and Windows with around 5%.

In developing markets, Android will amass more than 900 million device shipments this year, and over 1.1 billion in 2015, according to Gartner's data. Windows still outpaces Apple's platforms in these regions, with an estimated 194 million this year and another 221.8 million projected for 2015. Macs and iOS devices are expected to account for around 95 million shipments this year in developing regions and more than 112.6 million next year.

As was the case with mature territories, Gartner expects Windows to post the slowest growth in emerging markets, with 14.3% ecosystem growth anticipated for 2015. Gartner expects shipments of Apple devices to grow 18.2% and shipments of Android devices to grow more than 20% next year.

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
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10/22/2014 | 1:51:52 AM
Re: Tablets getting squeezed
@stevew: Makes sense to me.  Games and streaming video use much more energy/battery life than simple text editing and most other everyday work activities -- particularly because of the strain put on other hardware resources.

There is one relatively old but very graphically intense computer game I used to play that, if I play it today, can make my (very modern) laptop run at close to 80 degrees Celsius (even with an additional fan and an ice pack)!
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
10/21/2014 | 10:59:38 PM
Re: Stating the obvious
I used to be expressly anti-Apple -- simply because I, personally, hated every Apple product on the market.

Then Apple started making better products.

I still prefer PCs, but the company and its products have come a long way.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
10/20/2014 | 12:45:09 AM
Re: Screen Size
@steve: Because of an injury, I have particular ergonomic issues that require me to use a tablet with a special stand at times -- as opposed to a laptop specifically.  This, however, is highly inconvenient and impractical because of how small most tablets are.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
10/20/2014 | 12:41:26 AM
Re: Tablets getting squeezed
Android's a notorious energy-drainer/battery-life-eater.  That was my point.

But yes, tablets do -- in general -- seem to last longer, battery-wise, than most of their laptop counterparts.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
10/19/2014 | 5:47:05 AM
Screen Size
I would suspect Microsoft to have additional market share difficulties here once Apple comes out with its new, ultra-large iPad.

I know I'll be someone looking to buy the new iPad.  The thing I don't like about tablets is how small they are.  I like a nice, big screen for accessibility reasons.  I don't need a pocket-sized tablet; that's what my phone is for.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
10/19/2014 | 5:45:24 AM
Re: Tablets getting squeezed
> Battery life was HUGE when Apple introduced the iPad

And then...

*coughcoughAndroidcoughcough*
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/17/2014 | 10:32:14 AM
Re: Stating the obvious
@Mel, what do you consider an unbecoming put-down? Thinking that the OS X percentage in enterprises is high, or that some portion of people who buy Apple products do so largely because the see them as having a cachet that other devices lack?

While my primary system is a PC, I use a Mac for some of my day-to-day work. I also have an iPad, a Chromebook, and an Android phone. I think I have a pretty realistic picture of pros and cons. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/16/2014 | 5:32:44 PM
Re: Stating the obvious
@Thomas - I found the Mac OS number high also, but we did allow multi-select, so even if a respondent supports only a few Macs they're counted. As for Chrome OS, doesn't seem that Chromebooks have made their way into most enterprises. I'd guess that 7% is mostly EDU.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
10/16/2014 | 4:29:17 PM
Re: Stating the obvious
32% Mac OS X and Chrome OS 7%...that's actually pretty amazing.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/16/2014 | 1:42:04 PM
Re: Stating the obvious
I hear ya. Migrating from one Windows machine to another is still WAY more painful than it needs to be. Another reason for flat PC sales, IMO.
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