Stalling tablet sales

Apple’s Q3 2014 result showed iPad sales dropped nine percent year-on-year while Mac sales were up by 18 percent.

That’s not the story industry analysts and commentators told us. This time last year research companies predicted rising tablet sales would eclipse the falling PC market.

The CEO of America’s largest electronics retailer says tablet sales “are crashing”. Re/code reports:

The tablets boomed and now are crashing. The volume has really gone down in the last several months.

Meanwhile smartphones continue to sell.

I have a problem with commentators and analysts who view smartphones versus tablets versus PCs as a zero sum game.

Sure there are iPad-only users, just as there are PC-only users and smartphone-only users. But the three device classes do not exist in isolation. Distinctions are blurry. A phone with a five-inch screen isn’t far from a iPad mini. Microsoft’s Surface range straddles the gulf between tablets and PCs.

And anyway many people own devices in two or three of these classes.

It’s possible the tech industry got it wrong. Hardware makers put too much effort into tablets and missed the real action in the phone market.

However, phones have something else going for them that tablets and PCs do not. Many, perhaps most, smartphones are sold on contract. That puts customers in an automatic two-year buying cycle. There’s little compelling need to refresh a two-year old tablet or laptop. With the phone it happens regardless.