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Hybrid tablet-laptop sales up 77 percent

  • Author:Abby
  • Release on :2015-11-05

Microsoft’s Surface Book Pro announced in October to considerable fanfare. 

The 2-in-1 laptop-tablet segment recorded a 77 percent sales increase in the third quarter from 2014, according to data from Canalys. The tablet category is one that is still evolving, as the devices have a longer replacement cycle than other mobile electronics devices such as smartphones. Some consumers also prefer to have hybrid devices to get work done, while others choose tablets for entertainment consumption. The result is a 20 percent drop in tablet shipments last quarter from the previous year, with hybrids being the bright spot that may signal the future of the market.

Meanwhile, the PC market declined 14 percent overall in the third quarter. The increased hybrid computer shipments and a 12 percent rise in notebook shipments show renewed demand for productivity machines, while consumers hold on to entertainment devices such as iPads longer. Apple is also targeting explicitly the “productivity” market with the release of its iPad Pro this year, which has a keyboard and a stylus available as extra peripherals.

Additionally, Microsoft renewed recently its Surface line with the Surface Pro 4, which is supposed to be the “tablet that can replace your laptop,” and the new Surface Book, a laptop with a detachable screen that turns into a 13.5in tablet. Even Google has released the Pixel C, which also has a Bluetooth keyboard available meant to be used with the device. There is clearly a drive to capture this hybrid market, although Microsoft is the only one of the three offering full-PC function in tablet form.

Canalys points out that iPad refreshment cycle seems to be slowing in line with weaker demand for replacements. The silver lining here is that slower replacement cycles can result in higher profit margins per device. This is a key element of business models executed by China manufacturers such as Xiaomi and OnePlus to buttress the razor-thin margins in the smartphone industry. As the tablet industry slows, producers would want to look at hybrids as a source of growth, which could mean more tablets running Windows rather than a traditional mobile OS such as Android. This would also mean slower refreshment cycles, giving users a bigger upgrade when new devices finally hit the shelves.