Tablets, smartphones will continue cutting into single-use device sales
The flexibility offered by devices such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad tablet illustrates a correlation between their success and the shrinking popularity of single-use machines according to a new study by researcher IHS iSuppli, which predicts that the shifting needs of consumers who expect more and more from new devices will shape a dim future for consumer electronics with exclusive, singular functions.
IHS predicts that the compound annual growth rate of smartphones will be 28.5 percent through 2015, while multimedia tablets will enjoy an astonishing 72.1 percent increase in shipment figures over the same time frame. For the relatively new tablet, that means a jump from 17.4 million units to over 262 million units. Smartphone shipments will top one billion. The downside to both devices performing so well is the stagnation of once-popular, single-use consumer electronics such as digital cameras, MP3 players and GPS systems, said the group. In particular, MP3 players and dedicated portable music devices are expected to see their allotted shipment numbers fall nearly 7 percent over the next few years.
Jordan Selburn, Principal Analyst of Consumer Platforms at IHS, elaborated on the expected expansion of smartphones and tablets and framed the expected decline of other pieces of technology as a fact of life.
“The story of consumer electronics is an ongoing survival of the fittest, and multitasking systems such as media tablets will have a hand in turning yesterday’s hot consumer electronics gear into tomorrow’s fossils,” Selburn said. “Media tablets, predominantly the Apple iPad at present, are truly a jack of all trades – and master of most. This will put even more pressure on sales of single-task gear.”
Apple currently holds the lion’s share of the still relatively small tablet market: its iPad and iPad 2 both launched to strong sales, with the second iteration performing even better than the progenitor over the same time frame. A recent rumor suggested that the company is currently gearing up for the iPad 3, which may hit store shelves this fall.
While not cited directly in IHS’ list of single-use equipment which may be affected by smartphone and tablet proliferation, a rocky future for e-readers can be inferred from its research. The fight between e-readers and tablets has previously been detailed, but could a clear-cut victor already be known? It’s possible, and, when compared with the perceived outcome for other similarly dedicated devices, extremely likely that e-readers will face mounting difficulty in an increasingly multi-faceted consumer electronics market.
Have you skipped purchasing a dedicated piece of consumer electronics for one that can do it all? Will single-use devices eventually die off completely? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
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