Blog Post

Tablet sales are on a tear, while desktop swoon continues

If you thought the tablet growth spurt might be fading you should think again. The latest numbers from Gartner(s it) show tablet sales skyrocketing an estimated 53.4 percent this year to 184 million units from 120 million units in 2012. And the woebegone desktop category continues to struggle — exhibiting an 8.4 percent decline year over year to 303 million units shipped from 341 million for last year.

As for phones, by far the biggest category in terms of units, growth is expected to be 3.7 percent for the year with volume of 1.8 billion units shipped, up from 1.74 billion last year.

The market across all devices is driven by a shift to lower cost devices, according to Gartner.

Gartner Device shipments cy 2013 units

For a look at the lay of the land for device operating systems, check out the chart below. Android(s goog) still leads by a wide margin over Windows(s msft), which saw a decline of about 4.3 percent, but Gartner expects growth to resume (about 9.7 percent) next year. Blackberry(s bby), saw shipments fall 33 percent to 23,000 units from 34.5 thousand. And Apple iPhone units shipments are expected to rise to 271 million from 212 million last year.

Gartner said Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia this year did not have a huge effect on its forecast since Nokia was assumed to have accounted for the bulk of Windows Phone share anyway.

Device OS Gartner CY 2013

7 Responses to “Tablet sales are on a tear, while desktop swoon continues”

  1. Desktops have “plateaued” in a way. I remember when you HAD to upgrade your desktop every 2-3 years as websites became more multi-media heavy and browsers needed faster processors and more RAM to work effectively. Today you can keep a good iMac running for 5 years with no real notice in “speed decline” for the average user.

    Tablets (and phones)… haven’t maxed out yet and are constantly being upgraded and improved… where near a plateau yet.

    • My desktop is probably over 7 years old (it’s dual core). Adding an SSD extended its life greatly. No speed problems here. I have a rather large PST file, and despite that, Outlook opens quickly even right after booting and while loading two other programs.

  2. Frank A NYC

    Not surprised considering most people use a home computer for web surfing, emails and media consumption. Why buy a desk top or laptop when for under $300 you can get a tablet? I do think google’s chromebooks will continue to grow in sales as they offer pretty much what a tablet does except with a built in keyboard.

    • Common expression for something having a lot of momentum. One definition: On a streak or series, usually a winning streak. Will sometimes be used (semi-sarcastically) to define a losing streak.

      When used for a positive streak, it’s similar to “tear it up.” (thanks to urban dictionary)

  3. H. Murchison

    For me it’s no wonder that the desktop is dying a slow death. Pray tell what innovations have really happened in this space. Every year it’s the same dog and pony show trotted out. Here’s the new Intel Blah blah blah with the Nvidia 4000 bit blah blah blah running Windows “do I really have to upgrade”.1

    Why should consumers feel compelled to ante up again and again for what is really just incremental change?

    I think the future, with regard to desktops, isn’t your classic ATX box designed to bore. I think the future is low power processors (ARM, Intel Silvermont and beyond) and highly integrated tiny boxes. Display out and perhaps a couple of USB 3.0 ports and audio I/O. These boxes should be affordable $149 starting point for second tier vendors. $199 for top tier. They should tie in nicely with IoT and leverage Wifi networks heavily.

    I don’t think there’s much of a future for desktops as they exist today. Consumers have gone mobile because of the many advantages of mobile computing. Innovation doesn’t have to stop on the desktop realm it just needs to pivot.

  4. It would be interesting to know how many of the tablet sales are to existing tablet owners, as opposed to first time buyers just being attracted by lower prices.

    After buying the original Nexus 7 I thought we would want to get a second tablet or perhaps a larger tablet. Now I think the only thing that will get us to buy another one is the death of the first one. I can’t even tell you how many months it’s been since I last used the Nexus 7, although part of that is due to having a larger screen on my Samsung S4. What I used to do while watching a TV show on the tablet I now do on the S4.