Following the launch of the original iPad, consumers began flocking to tablets as if their favorite drug had just been legalized. Demand reached a fever pitch once name-brand Android slates came onto the scene with lower price tags, and the growth was so explosive that it had some analysts talking about the post PC era. What those short sighted analysts failed to take into account is market saturation, and for the first time since the iPad debuted, tablet shipments are on pace to see an on-year decline, market research firm TrendForce says.
According to TrendForce, the novelty of tablets has worn off. Prices have bottomed out, and this time around, low-cost notebooks are stealing away tablet market share instead of it being the other way around. As a result, branded tablet shipments are expected to decline 1.8 percent year-over-year to 153 million units in 2014, while notebook shipments will increase 1 percent year-over-year to 171 million units.
"Time has shown that notebooks are irreplaceable," said Caroline Chen, a notebook PC analyst with TrendForce. "They offer larger screens than tablets as well as a keyboard and mouse, which are all important for those who use their computers primarily for work reasons. Tablets remain limited to Internet browsing and entertainment functions."
None of this means tablets are on their way out, and if you're in the market for a slate, the good news here is that there's likely to be a long term price war, at least among non-Apple manufacturers, TrendForce says. It's also encouraging if you're in the market for a laptop, as Microsoft is working with hardware partners to release models in the $200 to $250 range.