This year’s Black Friday is expected to be the catalyst for tablets to pass notebook shipments for the first time in North America, a trend which we expect to continue for the foreseeable future.
NPD DisplaySearch’s fourth quarter North American tablet shipment forecast is 21.5 million units, far exceeding the 14.6 million notebooks and mini-notes that are expected to ship in the same period. Starting in 2013 in North America, tablet shipments are expected to exceed notebook shipments on an annual basis for the first time; 80 million tablets versus 63.8 million notebooks. On a worldwide basis, tablet shipments aren’t expected to out-ship notebooks until 2015, when 275.9 million tablets are projected to ship, as compared to 270 million notebooks.
Several factors are enabling the North American tablet-friendly environment. First, over 70% of U.S. households have PCs, putting the U.S. amongst the countries with highest PC penetration rates in the world, and making new PC purchases less necessary for consumers. Second, consumer preference has shifted from notebooks to tablets in the U.S., as we have seen from rapid growth of the tablet shipments (200% Y/Y or 38.2 million units in 2011, and 46%, or a projected 56 million, in 2012) and the rapid slowdown of notebooks (-2% Y/Y or 54.9 million units in 2011, and 2%, or a projected 55.9 million units, in 2012) over the last two years. Third, major players (i.e. Amazon, Google) started, focused, or emphasized their tablet efforts in the U.S.
Black Friday and the ensuing holiday shopping season is expected to enhance an already prime opportunity for U.S. tablet adoption. Price cuts to already-declining tablet ASPs will be a major influence. The $199 price point has increasingly become the target to match or beat with the introductions of Google’s $199 Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire 7”. Another significant influence will be the increasing number of tablet options available to consumers this holiday season. Up to this point, the tablet market was predominantly made up of Apple’s 9.7” iPad, which had about 65% market share in 2011. However, this holiday season there are 7”, 7.9”, 8.9”, 10.1”, and 10.6” options among others.
North America is expected to be the setting for the developing tablet market to overtake the established notebook market, and this Black Friday and the shopping season to follow will be the fuel to stoke the demand.