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Why Smartphones and Tablets will Dominate in 2013

When we take a holistic view of smartphones, tablets, and PCs, one thing is obvious -- notebook and netbook PCs are no longer a driving force in personal or business mobility application growth.

According to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), vendors shipped 367.7 million desktop PCs, portable PCs, tablets, and smartphones -- collectively called "Smart Connected Devices" -- in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), that combined market was up by 28.3 percent from the prior year.

As desktop PCs and portable PCs declined -- by -4.1 percent and -3.4 percent respectively -- the overall smart connected device space continued to surge to just over 1.2 billion shipments cumulatively in 2012.

Tablet shipments experienced the largest year-over-year growth in 2012, that's up 78.4 percent over 2011, while smartphones grew 46.1 percent but accounted for 60.1 percent of all smart connected devices shipped throughout the year.

After finishing 2011 second to Apple in the smart connected device market, Samsung arose to the number one position in 2012 with just over 20 percent share across the four device categories. Samsung shipped 250.0 million PCs, tablets, and smartphones in the past year, that's up 119.3 percent from the previous year, driven largely in part by its surge in the smartphone space.


While Samsung managed to ship more smartphones and portable PCs than Apple in 2012, Apple led all in tablet shipments, was eighth in portable PC shipments, and fifth overall in desktop PC shipments.

"Smartphones and tablets are growing at a pace that PCs can't realistically keep up with because of device prices and to some extent disposability," explained Ryan Reith, program manager at IDC.

The average selling price (ASP) for a tablet declined 15.0 percent in 2012 to $461, and IDC expects that trend to continue in 2013. However, smartphone APSs are still lower at $408. IDC expects smartphones to continue to carry a shorter life cycle than PCs for the years to come based on price, use case, and overall device size.

Rounding out the top 5 smart connected device vendors in 2012 was Lenovo at number 3 with 6.5 percent share. Lenovo's strong point is still in portable PCs where it shipped just over 30 million units in 2012. However, smartphones are a growing space for the Chinese vendor as shipments grew from 3.7 million in 2011 to 23.7 million in 2012.

In the fourth position was HP with 4.8 percent share, however shipments of smart connected devices were down 8.5 percent year over year primarily for the lack of smartphone and tablet offerings. And in the fifth position was Dell with 3.2 percent share, that's down by 12.9 percent from 2011 as it also struggles with a lack of presence in the smartphone and tablet markets.

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