Study: Enterprise Could Rescue Stagnant Consumer Tablet Sales
Apple’s (AAPL) string of declining iPad sales, which continued even amid the vendor’s whopper FQ2 2015 that saw it beat analysts’ expectations in revenue, earnings and iPhone sales, unearthed the larger issue of stagnating tablet sales worldwide, suggests a new Forrester Research study.
Why are consumer tablet sales falling? According to Forrester, users tend to hold on to older models rather than replacing them regularly as they do with smartphones, and the rate of innovation hasn’t exactly eclipsed any land/speed records so far.
Still, even as iPad quarterly sales fell 23 percent year-over-year in FQ2 to 12.6 million units, far below the 13.9 million analysts expected, Apple boss Tim Cook continued to say, as he has for the better part of a year, that iPad sales “will come back.”
But it may not be consumers that revive tablets’ growth. Instead, it may be business customers that breathe some new life into the segment.
Forrester, which points out that the user base of tablets globally will grow to 580 million people by the end of this year, thinks Cook’s probably right about the brighter future, not just for the iPad but for the whole segment, and business customers are the reason why.
The researcher’s newly-released Global Tablet Forecast 2015 – 2018 suggests that despite sliding shipment numbers in the consumer market, company-purchased tablets may be the platform’s bright spot, more than tripling as a percentage of the overall market to some 20 percent.
“Our forecast shows that enterprise tablets are growing as a percentage of the market, from 6 percent in 2010 to 20 percent by 2018,” said J. P. Gownder, Forrester Infrastructure & Operations vice president and principal analyst, in a blog post.
“These tablets can be Apple iPads, Windows-based tablets, or Android devices, and they are generally purchased and managed by the company on behalf of employees, who might receive them individually or, in other use cases, share the devices,” he said.
Tablet growth among enterprises is being fueled by a number of driving factors, including new enterprise mobility partnerships, new uses for tablets in the workplace and worker demand.
“Apple’s important partnership with IBM has led to the development of numerous enterprise applications for iOS,” said Gownder. “Microsoft and its partners, particularly Dell, with its enterprise focus, have made Windows into an important OS for enterprise tablets, a trend that will accelerate with Windows 10,” he said.
“Workers themselves say they value tablets, with over half of information workers using one at least weekly for work,” wrote Gownder. “Not all workers are desk-bound, and tablets are finding their way into the hands of many different types of workers: Package delivery drivers. Retail sales associates. Car-return specialists at the car rental companies. Menus at restaurants. Field technicians,” he said.
“Growth in these and other scenarios expands the addressable market for enterprise tablets significantly,” said Gownder.
Even as tablet sales among consumers ebb, company-supplied tablets in the workplace are fast becoming an integral part of a multi-faceted hardware strategy, he said.