Sales of Android tablets could be down nearly 50% this quarter verses the previous one, while Apple iPad sales will be up 5%, according to analysts working for DigiTimes.
The holiday shopping season brought strong tablets sales. Q4 was especially good for the iPad's competitors, to the point where sales of Android and Windows tablets outnumbered Apple's sales -- 22.1 million vs. 21 million.
But the analysts at DigiTimes say this quarter is going to be quite different. With the holidays behind us, they are predicting that combined sales of Android and Windows tablets are only going to reach 11.8 million, while iPad sales will grow slightly to 22 million. They credit this to strong demand for the new iPad mini.
Obviously, Apple will remain the largest tablet maker in the first quarter, following by Samsung, Google, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Microsoft.
The analysts say that total tablet sales in Q1 are going to be up 75.8% year-on-year.
When I look into these numbers there is obviously good and bad. The segment is growing at 71% year over year which of course is strong. Anything that grows at this rate year over year in this economy is doing great.
The shining star of course is Apple. With iPad sales nearly the same this quarter as Christmas sales they are doing fantastic. But most of this is caused by the introduction of the new iPad mini. 7" tablets have been out in Android for a couple of years and now's the chance for Apple fans to get theirs. It's not Apple leading the pack as much as following the pack. But if you're an iPad fan you more or less sworn off competition and this is a benevolent gesture.
As for everybody else, this is the concern. The steep sales decline shows that these sales are more seasonal. The type of thing you would find in a consumer electronic device, not so much for a computer. When you put all the tablets together with all the different OS including Android, Windows 8 and Blackberry and add them up and still have sales half of the iPad you can't convince me that this market is taking off.
My question is when everybody who wants an iPad gets one, what next? Will they replace them when they die or break? Will they be compelled to upgrade to the newest iPad? My thinking is that something remarkably better needs to come along, not just a little better to keep this segment moving along. Without the iPad mini this quarter uptick would look much worse year over year and sooner or later this market is peak.
I'm calling it now, looking at these numbers, unless something better comes along to drive the segment the tablet market is going to peak by 2014. There is nothing driving down costs and there is really nothing that is raising the bar as far as consumer can tell.