It happened, as forecast, the media tablet market momentum lost some traction at the beginning of the year. Overall, the first quarter of 2014 was disappointing for most tablet vendors, experiencing a 30 percent decline in unit shipments.
That being said, ABI Research expects growth to resume over the balance of the year, as branded OEM shipments will exceed 200 million in 2014, according to their latest global market study.
According to ABI's assessment, this year should also be a watershed for the tablet installed base, with active Google Android devices surpassing Apple iOS for the first time. It's yet one more example of where an open source software project becomes the determining factor in market development success.
"Tablet hardware sales from branded OEMs are likely to top $85 billion this year," says Jeff Orr, senior practice director at ABI Research.
ABI believes that we have yet to reach the top of the tablet market and with many world regions just now starting to adopt these devices, the best is yet to come -- and new growth is primarily going to be driven by low-cost Android devices.
Intel aims to increase its marketing spend for tablets during 2014, with a projected 40 million devices powered by its processors. They will make their best effort to try and catch-up with the market leaders.
However, ABI Research believes a significant portion of new growth will come from smaller manufacturers in China and Taiwan -- developing next-generation Android tablets -- during the second half of the year.
MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung, and other chipset suppliers are also making in-roads with tablets destined for the Asia-Pacific region. ABI predicts that China and India combined will represent more than 35 percent of 2014 shipments in the region.
Tablets made in China for the Chinese market have been a major influence in the white box (non-branded) segment and pressures are mounting as consumers seek local vendor service and support.
Despite the aforementioned shifts in the tablet market, Apple’s iPad is expected to remain the leading OEM brand in 2014. Meanwhile, Samsung continues to close the gap in second where the duo could represent upwards of 70 percent of the world's branded tablet shipments by year-end.
Looking back over the past three years of the tablet boom, the leading vendor order has remained largely unchanged. Lenovo is the most obvious standout as it has executed a successful tablet strategy in both China and abroad. They're also well positioned to fulfill demand for lower-cost devices in their local market.