UK tablet sales growth slows as market saturates

Tablet sales in the UK are set to decline over the next two years as the market approaches saturation point, CCS Insight analysts have said.

Latest forecasts from the research company indicate that tablet sales in the UK will fall by 3 million units year-on-year to 14 million in 2014, as the majority of consumers have now purchased their first device. Nearly half (43 per cent) of the UK population owned a tablet by the end of 2013, and sales won't pick up again until 2016, when the first wave of replacement purchases begins, said CCS Insight director of forecasting, Marina Koytcheva.

"It's only natural that we will now see a cooling off in tablet sales for the next couple of years," commented Koytcheva, who noted that consumers will likely spend the period upgrading their PCs and smartphones.

"Tablets have captured people's imagination in a way that even mobile phones didn't. In just four years, almost half the population of the UK has now got a tablet. It took 14 years for mobile phones to become that popular," Koytcheva added.

While the CCS Insight analyst points out that low-cost tablet PCs have spurred initial sales of the devices, she noted that prices "won't keep falling indefinitely", and predicted that many current users will turn to high-end products when they upgrade.

"We expect many of those who bought cheap tablets will upgrade to more expensive products next time around as they grow frustrated by the limitations of what the low-end tablets can do," she added.

The research company separately predicted global tablet sales will slow down in 2014 and 2015, as a result of the same upgrade cycle affecting the UK. CCS Insight forecasted sales growth of 28 per cent in 2014, compared to 68 per cent in 2013.

CCS Insight's prediction that shipments will reach 256 million tablets in 2014 is nearly 30 million units lower than the 285 million forecasted by rival research firm Canalys in November.

Gartner recently said tablets sales are beginning to negatively impact PC sales growth in emerging markets, where the products are typically consumers' first computing device rather than a traditional computer. Tablets were tipped to become the dominant form factor in the broader PC market.

For more:
- see this CCS Insight release on UK sales
- see this CCS Insight release on global sales
- see this Canalys release

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Smartphone data consumption almost doubles in 2013
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