The US media said that the tablet has become one of the most successful electronic products. Since its launch in 2010, the Apple iPad has sold more than 210 million units, which is almost twice the sales of the first four years after the iPhone. This helped the electronics industry make up for the decline in sales of desktop and portable PCs. Despite this, the tablet market is experiencing a sudden decline and is unable to replace the PC.
Apple reported that the iPad's sales in the last quarter fell by a sixth. Microsoft said its revenue from its Surface tablet business fell about 40% after the holiday season. Amazon did not disclose its tablet sales, but according to market research firm Gartner, Amazon's tablet market share has not improved. According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, global tablet sales increased by 19% in the first quarter, driven by sales of low-priced products in emerging markets, but this growth was insignificant compared to 83% growth in the same period last year. In the same period of 2012 and 2011, the growth rate reached 100%.
Horace Dediu, founder of research consultancy Asymco, said that the early success of tablets led to long-term unrealistic expectations. The growth of the tablet market is slowing down, as the current US market saturation rate is only about 40%. Ded said that the decline in sales growth in the previous generation of hot-selling consumer electronics, such as color TVs and microwave ovens, was not seen. The tablet may eventually prove to be more like a game console. Although it is a big and valuable market, it can't reach the popularity of mobile phones. “This is a very attractive product,” he said, “but not comparable to mobile phones.”
Benedict Evans, an analyst at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said that as smartphones become larger and more powerful, there is less interest in spending hundreds of dollars on a tablet. Consumers are happy to use their iPhone or Samsung Electronics' Galaxy smartphones to surf the Internet, play games or send and receive emails, and this trend is likely to continue as the size of the phone's display becomes larger.
Of course, the demand for cheap tablets is still growing, especially for some products of Samsung Electronics, Lenovo Group and Asus. The use of these products is mainly for users to watch videos. Sales of Android tablets increased by 48% in the first quarter. Many commercial and retail channels, including Tesco in the UK and Carrefour in France, are selling their own branded tablets for less than $200. In the Asian market, the price of tablets is even as low as $50. Although these products do not have the applications or commercial software in the iPad, the market is very hot. Research firm Asymco's Ded said that in Asia, tablets are used to watch TV, movies and play music: "Today in Asia, tablets are an alternative to television."
Tablet PCs are hard to replace PCs when dealing with large amounts of data and writing long reports. In the 1980s, Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée said that the limitations of the iPad made him frustrated that the iPad had no file system available to organize and save documents. He said that this situation is beneficial to the public, but it limits the value of the use of group users or users who want to have such features. Like many analysts in the industry, Apple’s former executives expect Apple to eventually launch an iPad that feels more like a PC. Now, Jane Luis Gans is the general partner of venture capital firm Allegis Capital.
For the above reports, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple declined to comment. Last quarter, Apple iPad sales reached $7.6 billion. Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated his opinion to analysts on the April 23 earnings report, which will exceed PC sales in the next few years. He also said at the time: "Apple will be the main beneficiary of this trend."