Published: March 21st, 2014

Will this year be a pivotal year for tablet computing? According to ABI Research, and its latest study 2014 is a pivotal year for tablets as the traditional markets leading computing and CE deployments reach a tipping point.

The most mature markets, including North America, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea, are yielding to other regions, such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, where the connectivity infrastructure and distribution channels are coming of age. Market intelligence firm ABI Research forecasts 200 million branded tablet shipments this year — a 20 per cent gain year-over-year from the 166 million shipments in 2013.

With more choices than ever for mobile computing, consumers and businesses will weigh the role of tablets along with ultraportable PCs and large screen smartphones (the so-called phablets) to satisfy communications and computing needs, ABI said.

But 2014 will be anything but status quo for tablet suppliers. “If Intel is able to achieve its goal of 40 million tablets with its processor technology, the silicon vendor will suddenly become a significant player,” says ABI senior practice director, Jeff Orr. “One of the greatest opportunities this year is for development, manufacturing and marketing of tablets on a regional and even local level, which shakes up the vendor ecosystem of the past four years. Partnerships and deals struck this year will be key for the next few years of tablet adoption.”

Since 2010, the tablet market has been led by North America and its affinity with Apple’s iPad. ABI predicts North America will drop below 50 per cent of all branded tablet shipments for the first time. Continued efforts by Apple, Samsung, and other OEM vendors to find favour in growth markets will result in new distribution channels for retail, network operators and e-commerce.