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Smartphones, Tablets Are Still Growth Engines

TWICE: How will demand be for smartphones and tablets this holiday season? Which category do you expect to have the most holiday season growth?

Fred Towns, New Age Electronics and Jack of All Games: People are debating whether or not they want to carry both a tablet and a smartphone. This is driving interest in the new jumbo phones, or “phablets,” for those who want the functionality at a larger viewing size. However, there will still be a large demand for both tablets and mobile phones, with mobile phones leading the way in growth between the two.

The growth in mobile phones will also be stronger because of product refresh and the advancement of the feature sets these devices offer that suit the user’s desired functionality. While Android and iOS still lead, consumers are also starting to understand the concept around the Windows 8 ecosystem, including Windows 8 smartphones and the Surface RT tablet, which will contribute to the overall demand.

Bill Stewart, Petra Industries: As a leading accessory distributor, we see a rapid proliferation of accessories that enhance the enjoyment and utility of these devices. Specifically, we anticipate growth to continue to be strong in portable power, health and fitness-related accessories and a variety of products that incorporate Bluetooth connectivity.

Rob Eby, D&H Distributing: Tablets will be the hottest Q4 item this year, encompassing everything from the low to the high end of the spectrum. Demand has shown no sign of abating, especially with the advent of convertible models, and the introduction of tier-one branded units in the under-$300, or even the under-$200 range, such as the new HP Slate 7 models.

Users will start to refresh their tablets more frequently to get branded models at competitive prices, or to acquire the latest features. Mobile accessories such as removable keyboards and stands will also experience a boost in sales as this trend continues.

Kevin Kelly, Stampede Presentation Products: In a word, huge! This will absolutely be the first holiday season to see tablet sales surpass sales of PCs — a historic milestone that will only continue as the universe continues evolve from PCs to “connected devices” that are anchored by tablets and smartphones.

More importantly for this holiday season and the year ahead, manufacturers are introducing lower-priced phones and tablets at precisely the time when the market in America is showing some signs of becoming saturated. The emergence of lower-priced devices will be a game-changer. Introducing new handsets and tablet devices at cheaper price points along with special initiatives like trade-in programs will accelerate the upgrade cycle and expand the overall market. What’s more, device sales are going to generate increased sales of cases, ear buds, screen protectors and screen cleaners.

Curt Hayes, Capitol: Smartphones and tablets are two growth areas, and I think you’ll see particularly strong growth in tablets between now and the end of the holiday season. There’s fierce competition and a steady stream of new products. The only challenge, of course, is that — just as we’ve seen in the HDTV market — it’s too easy to drive down prices until margins are razor-thin.

Warren Chaiken, Almo: Tablets are a much younger category than smartphones, which is a highly saturated category. Tablets, still being in the big growth curve of its lifecycle, will see the most growth this season.