Sales of tablets are expected to slow down in 2014 as consumer interest is gradually shifting toward alternative devices, while existing tablet users have been sluggish in purchasing new models, according to a report by Gartner.

Worldwide sales of tablets are expected to reach 229 million units by the end of 2014, an 11 percent increase over 2013, representing 9.5 percent of total worldwide sales of all devices in 2014, the Gartner report said. In comparison, tablet sales grew 55 percent in 2013 over the previous year, according to the report.

“The device market continues to evolve, with the relationship between traditional PCs, different form factor ultramobiles (clamshells, hybrids and tablets) and mobile phones becoming increasingly complex,” Ranjit Atwal, a research director at Gartner, said in a statement.

According to Gartner, the worldwide combined shipments of devices, including PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones, are estimated to reach 2.4 billion units in 2014, representing a 3.2 percent increase from 2013. The report also said that the downward trend in tablet sales is partly attributed to users extending the life of current tablets to three years by 2018.

Device-shipment_Gartner Tablet sales growth is slowing in 2014 as new hardware buyers turn to alternative devices. Photo: Gartner

Gartner projected that consumers will buy about 90 million fewer new tablets through 2018, while current users will replace 155 million fewer tablets in the same period.

“Some tablet users are not replacing a tablet with a tablet, they are favoring hybrid or two-in-one devices, increasing its share of the ultramobile premium market to 22 percent in 2014, and 32 percent by 2018," Atwal said.

Strong Growth For Mobile Phones

Unlike tablets, the mobile phone segment is projected to grow in 2014, thanks to the growing popularity of lower-end smartphones. While basic smartphones, including mid-range Android handsets, are expected to grow 52 percent in 2014, the growth rate of low-end Chinese devices is estimated to double during the same period.

According to Gartner, the expansion of affordable mobile phones in emerging markets has contributed to the increase in the global market share of smartphones, which is expected to reach 71 percent in 2014, up 17 percentage points from 2013.

“Android and iOS have further entrenched their market positions in the global phone market, making it difficult for alternative ecosystems to become more than niche players,” the Gartner report said.

OS-shipment_Gartner Android Device Shipments to Reach One Billion in Emerging Markets in 2015. Photo: Gartner