What Will Slowing Tablet Growth Mean for Apple and Google?

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In 2014, the global tablet market is set to show its first signs of slowing down -- sprouting its first few gray hairs, so to speak.

On the surface this seems slightly absurd. How could a market that began less than five years ago with Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) introduction of the iPad in 2010 be approaching mass-market saturation? Fast forward to today and both Apple and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) have carved out dominant portions of what's now become a truly global market.

But like it or not, that appears to be the case according to one firm's recent estimates.

Growing up fast
Research firm IDC recently came out with data that implies both Apple and Google might need to search for a new growth driver -- and quick. According to IDC, the tablet market is set to expand a now-paltry 20% in CY 2014. This comes as another market both Apple and Google dominate, the global smartphone market, appears to be slowly maturing as well.

In the video below, tech-and-telecom analyst Andrew Tonner looks at the growth expectations for the tablet market going forward and the implications this industry-wide sea change could have on both Apple and Google.

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Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 3:07 PM, luxetlibertas wrote:

    Lumping together low-end and high-end tablets is a fatal flaw in the analysis. Cheap tablets are waiting to be discarded, if they're still in use at all. Additionally, IDC and Gartner predictions have proved to be fairly worthless in the past.

    You'd be better off estimating yourself how strong the use case is for *high-end* tablets in general as compared to PC's and smartphones. Will there be billions of them in a few years, or not? How will the replacement cycle be? That is, for how long will technical advances be able drive fairly frequent almost-'mandatory' upgrades?

    It clearly depends on the speed of innovation. How much more useful can tablets get in people's lives? If Apple does it right, iPad sales could easily double still before the replacement cycle starts to slow down.

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 3:39 PM, iphonerulez wrote:

    Apparently, whatever market Apple has a presence in will almost immediately show slowed growth or quick saturation. It's weird. I remember when the iPad was first introduced, all the fortunetellers believed that no one would be interested in tablets and it was claimed that Apple would have all the tablet market share to itself. It didn't turn out that way though. Once Apple started making money from the iPad, all the people who said tablets would be temporary or be a dead-end device suddenly wanted a piece of the tablet market. The problem is there are far too many Apple product copycats.

    I wonder why Google or Amazon aren't affected with these problems. Why is it that their areas of business are considered to have unlimited growth? I'm willing to bet if Apple gets into the iWatch business, the market will suddenly become saturated in a year. I'll never quite understand Wall Street's quest for companies with unlimited growth. I really don't think such a business exists because there are a finite number of people on this planet. I think long-term sustained sales are a more useful measure of a company's future value.

  • Report this Comment On March 16, 2014, at 8:06 PM, jnffarrell1 wrote:

    Google will not change anything. Google knows the perfect solution for filling the 10-13 inch form factor is a powerful yet inexpensive Chrome Book. Greasy finger computing was a vestigial organ, like an appendix on the evolution of the PC toward thin client personal assistants connected to incomprehensibly advanced AI capabilities residing in the Google Drive.

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Andrew Tonner

Andrew Tonner is a tech specialist for The Motley Fool. He is a graduate of The University of Arizona with a degree in Finance.

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