Analysts say Microsoft Corp. could see growth in the tablet market as consumer purchases slow down, and large enterprise purchases -- at schools, businesses and government offices -- speed up.
Tablet and hybrid computer sales fell for the first time during the last quarter of 2014, and IDC analysts have scaled back their expectations for sales in the next five years. The tablet market will begin to grow, but slowly, the company claims, but not at the rate that manufacturers saw when they were first released in 2010.
Global tablet sales will reach 234.5 million, up just 2.1 percent from last year, IDC said in a research report published on Thursday. The growth has slowed, but the market will look much better than it did last quarter.
Tablet sales have been impacted by the popularity of larger smartphones, or phablets, like Apple Inc.’s iPhone 6 Plus. As screen sizes on phones grow closer to those on tablets, consumers see little value in purchasing both.
There will still be demand for tablets’ larger screen size from enterprise customers looking for functions not available on smartphones. Business clients looking to use Office are likely to prefer tablets’ larger screen size, potentially increasing the popularity of Microsoft’s Surface tablets, which run Windows.
IDC says that Google Inc.’s Android tablets will retain the largest market share of any operating system at roughly two-thirds of total tablet sales, while Apple’s iOS (which powers iPads) will be hit the hardest. Windows, however, will grow from 5.1 percent in 2014 to 14.1 percent in 2019.