There has been a major shift in consumer purchasing behavior in the personal computer market over the last two years. Traditional desktop and laptop PCs, have seen significant decline in year-over-year sales. In the first quarter of 2013, there was an 11.7% year-over-year drop in shipments for the traditional PC market in the United States. Meanwhile, US tablet shipments grew 49.6% year-over-year in the same quarter. These statistics show an important shift for consumers towards mobile computing. These numbers also made Rescuecom’s decision to include tablets as part of the RESCUECOM Computer Reliability Report for Q1 2013 that much easier. It’s clear that many users are choosing to take their computing mobile with tablet purchases. It would be foolish to ignore this trend.
By including tablets in this quarter’s Computer Reliability Report, Rescuecom has shed light on some interesting possibilities. Many have wondered if tablets, with their small form factor and apparent fragility, would be more or less reliable than traditional computers. It is certainly interesting that the top two tablet market share holders—Apple and Samsung—are also the top two brands ranked in the reliability report. Higher tablet sales appear to correlate with higher reliability. This correlation implies that tablets may be more reliable than older PC form factors. Furthermore, the inclusion of iPads rose Apple’s ranking from sixth in the 2012 yearly reliability report to second in this most recent report. This could mean that iPads are more reliable than Apple’s laptops and desktops, and the company’s overall reliability score has increased because of it. However, the data is hardly conclusive, and one must take into account that tablets have been around for a shorter period than desktops and laptops. Many laptops and desktops malfunction and need service after five or six years on the market, while Apple released the first iPad only a little over three years ago. By tracking tablet support as well as traditional computer support calls now, Rescuecom will be able to accumulate data over the next few years that shows us just how reliable the tablet form factor is in the long run.
Apple’s iPad clearly dominates the tablet market with a 46% share in the first quarter of 2013. Because of this, the addition of tablets to the IDC-sourced data for Rescuecom’s reliability report has changed Apple’s numbers significantly in several areas. For example, adding iPads to their total ups Apple’s market share to 26.2%. Without tablets, Apple’s market share is only 11.0% in the same quarter. That’s a huge increase and given the prevalence of tablets and mobile computing today, it likely gives readers a more accurate idea of Apple’s position in the consumer market currently. Samsung’s market share also increases significantly with the consideration of tablets—from 4.1% with PCs alone to 9.4% when combining both form factors. While neither Apple nor Samsung is dominant in traditional PC market share, it is clear the tablet market has significantly increased their influence in consumer computer technology.
Also of note is that the makers of premium, higher priced tablets score higher in Rescuecom’s report. Samsung, Apple, and Asus have the strongest footholds in the higher end of the tablet market with the Galaxy Tab Note, iPad, and Transformer Infinity, respectively. Meanwhile, Acer, who offers mostly budget Android tablets, ranks down at the bottom of the list and still accounts for many of Rescuecom’s service calls. This reinforces previous perceptions of Acer as a cheaper, less reliable brand. It appears that the introduction of Acer’s tablet products to the market have done little to counter that perception. Even premium tablet makers aren’t perfect however, with Apple repair and support accounting for 11.0% of calls for service.
Sony and Panasonic have fallen off the list partially due to their poor market share in tablets. Panasonic hasn’t released a mainstream tablet product for consumers, instead only releasing high priced “Toughpads” for the extreme durability niche. Sony, on the other hand, has been trying to appeal to consumers with its S Tablet and Xperia branded tablet products. Unfortunately for them, they have made little traction in the market.
Regardless of anything else, the one inescapable truth in all this is that tablets are quickly becoming one of the most significant subsections of the computer market, and they aren’t going away any time soon. Consider that Apple lost 8% of its US tablet market share year-over-year, but actually sold 5 million iPads in Q1 of 2013. That is over half a million more than they sold in the same quarter in 2012. Gaining more sales but losing market share means that many other companies are selling more tablets as well. It would seem that iPads, Android tablets, and their brethren are here to stay.
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