Analysts are seeing established smartphone market growth slow to single digits as consumers move on to newer device categories. Predictions show that fitness bands and smart watches will be the gadget segments to watch for growth in the coming years. Right now, however, the tablet market is where the competition for growth is.
Market research firm Gartner today released a new report estimating that 195.4 million tablets were sold through to customers last year. This represents a 68% sales growth from the tablets sold during 2012.
Much of last year's tablet sales were, of course, led by Android devices. The 7-inch tablet segment last year saw prices racing downward as companies vied to get their products into the hands of consumers who might not need the power of larger or more expensive tablets.
Gartner's report estimates that nearly 121 million Android tablets were sold last year, accounting for 61.9% of worldwide tablet sales. That's up significantly from the 53 million in tablet sales Android tablets enjoyed in 2012 (making up only 45.8% of the market).
At the same time Apple tablet sales market share has dropped by a wide margin, to just 36% in 2013. This is down from the 52.8% of the market the company controlled in 2012, though Apple's tablet shipments rose slightly to 70.4 million in 2013. Apple still remains, by far, the largest seller of tablets worldwide, though Samsung is quickly catching up with its 37.4 million tablet sales (19.1% of the market) last year.
"In 2013, tablets became a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android-based tablets being within the budget of mainstream consumers while still offering adequate specifications," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. "As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditized, in 2014, it will be critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value - beyond just hardware and cost - to ensure brand loyalty and improved margins."