A new Gartner study published today provides us with a new round of statistics to mull over and dissect regarding 2013 worldwide shipments and trends. Combined worldwide shipments of devices (PCs, tablets and mobile phones) are projected to reach 2.32 billion units in 2013, a 4.5 percent increase from 2012. A generalized trend that Gartner sees in the year's closing quarter is that it will be driven by lower-priced devices in all categories while there'll be a boost for PC devices coming from hybrid notebook-tablets
Gartner on Tablets
In the tablet category, Gartner forecasts shipments in the 42.7 percent range for this year, with shipments reaching 184 million units. Premium tablets will be faced with continued price decline in the 7-inch form factor as a larger number of consumers prefer smaller form factors when it comes to content consumption. Forty-seven percent of the 21,500 consumers surveyed owned a tablet that was 8 inches or less.
Don't Discount the Power of the iPad Brand just Yet
Apple will be launching an upgrade to their iPad and iPad mini tomorrow. While rumors are predicting lower prices for the iPad mini, we can always expect some interesting new twists to emerge at Apple's "special events." There's likely something to emerge that will upset some of Gartner's forecasts.
For instance, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is forecasting that the upgraded iPad mini in tomorrow's presentation will include a high-end Retina display. Also noted in the WSJ report is that Gartner expects Apple's share of the tablet market to fall below 50% this year, from 65% in 2011. Could a hot new Retina Display based iPad mini shake Gartner's forecast? Yes, it could. Between the iPad mini's superior quality, free high-end apps like iLife and access to the best online stores in the world for apps and music is enough reason for Apple's iPad's to remain the most sought after tablets on the market for the 2013 holiday season. .
Gartner on Operating Systems
Android will remain the leading device operating system (OS), as it is on pace to account for 38 percent of shipments in 2013. The Windows OS is projected to decline 4.3 percent in 2013 as a result of the decline in traditional PC sales.
Looking at Gartner's forecast for Apple's operating system we see steady growth over the next two years but not as quickly as Android which will be the favorite OS for a bombardment of lower-end devices coming to market in that same time frame. Gartner's forecast is also based on Apple's current round of products. Therefore any new Apple iDevices coming to market would upset Gartner's forecast considerably.
Gartner of Emerging Hybrid Ultrabooks
In the new Hybrid Ultrabook category, Gartner states that "Although the preference is for dedicated devices, we see the opportunity for hybrid ultramobile to marry the functionality of a PC and the form factor of the tablet. Users that have to balance work and play will find that the advantage of buying and carrying one device outweighs the compromise in the full experience that single devices can deliver." Intel's 2 for 1 Computer deal is something that they've focused on this year, calling it a "Game Changer."
We'll know in January if this trend hit its target or not. Apple has a patent pending hybrid notebook on record just in case this category proves popular. Rumors of a larger iPad coming to market since May could support the likes of a hybrid notebook and the rumors continue. Time will tell if this pans out for 2014 or not.
Gartner of Smartphones
In the smartphone/mobile phone category, Gartner sees that this segment of the "market will continue to experience steady growth, but the opportunity for high average selling price smartphones is now ending. Growth is expected to come from mid-tier smartphones in mature markets and low-end Android smartphones in emerging markets, specifically." Apple could upset that forecast in 2014 if the iPhone 6 takes on a whole new design.
Today, DigiTimes reported on a similar trend. Their report stated that "Smartphones with a display size of 5-inch and a price tag of US$300-400 have become mainstream models of the entry-level smartphone segment, attracting not only China-based handset suppliers but also international brands including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications and HTC to launch new 5-inch models for the market, according to industry sources."
Gartner on Wearable Computers
On the topic of wearable computers, Gartner sees that top technology providers see wearable devices as an important market opportunity; however, it's expected that wearable devices will primarily remain a companion to mobile phones. Less than 1 percent of consumers will actually replace their mobile phones with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet by 2017.
Gartner notes that "For wearables to be successful, they need to add to the user experience by complementing and enhancing what other devices already offer. They also need to be stylish yet practical, and most of all hit the right price."
That's as general an observation as you can get. Should Apple enter this market in the next several years, we can count on Apple not selling them at bargain basement prices.