How Big Is The Tablet Market?

Note: This post has been edited to correct some errors on the size of the global PC and smartphone markets.

Benedict Evans has a great post in which he dissects a bunch of Apple data and concludes that both tablets and PCs have topped out and the smartphone is really the only growth sector in consumer hardware right now.

Here is iPad vs iPhone sales data using a trailing twelve months filter to level out spikes from new product introductions:

iphone vs ipad

Benedict makes the argument in his post, which I largely agree with, that Android is not really cutting into the iPad’s sales any nearly as much as it is doing that in the smartphone market.

So, if we say that iPad is 80% of the market, and iPad has flattened out at roughly 80mm units a year, that means the tablet market is about 100mm units per year.

Global PC sales have also topped out (also from Benedict’s post) at about 350mm units annually.

global PC unit sales

Smartphones, on the other hand, are approaching 1bn units a year globally and are still on a sharp growth curve.

pcs vs smartphones

In theory, every person on the planet could and maybe should have a smartphone. Obviously we won’t hit that number for a very long time, if ever. But the global smartphone market is much larger than the PC and tablet markets now.

Design and build for the phone. Because that’s where the users are and that is where they will be.

Update: I wrote this before getting on a bike and riding out to Brooklyn. As I was riding across the Brooklyn Bridge, I realized the thing that could change this – price. If high quality (think Nexus 7) tablets get down to sub $50, that could change a lot. I would imagine every student would be issued a tablet like that at the start of the school year. They would become the default reading and watching devices. I think that can and will happen within five years. So maybe we are witnessing a temporary stalling of the tablet market while these devices wait to become affordable for everyone.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Matt A. Myers

    From what I can tell most tablet users are primarily using them for Pinterest.

    1. JimHirshfield

      You’re obviously hanging out in all the right places.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Cafes are a tough place to get work done sometimes.

        1. pointsnfigures

, find a place

      2. Drew Meyers

        all the wrong places? least fav site

  2. awaldstein

    I agree and wonder:-all my social nets have apps and 90% of my usage is on my phone.-Amazon and travel purchases mostly as well.As I look across my daily interactions the biggest hole is long-form comments. Maybe I’m a luddite but I simply can’t post or engage in comments on this or on my own blogs effectively on my phone.In 3 years will we need to meet for coffee to discuss anything or will commenting systems evolve to catch the speeding train?This is not a knock on Disqus or Word Press, it’s just how it is.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Wait, I hope people don’t think the point of the internet is to disconnect from reality and not have to engage with others … particularly an escalating problem for youth who are still learning how to engage – people from all age groups generally need help in this area.

    2. JimHirshfield

      No doubt the handheld smart phone form factor makes long form typing challenging.I’m curious about what you said about travel purchases. I’ve never used my smart phone for that. I buy on amzn on the phone. But I find airfare purchases to be cumbersome and easier on the laptop. What am I missing?

      1. awaldstein

        I travel mostly on one airline (aa) and for business travel most in one group of hotels (starwood). Discovery on mobile is tough, limiting the parameters makes it easier–if not of course–limiting.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Hmm. Right. When there’s just one product, it makes it easier.

          1. awaldstein

            The amazing things about Amazon of course is that it’s all products and 80% of my purchases are repurchases. Discovery happens within my own account or by referral (books).And their support is freakin amazing….Just this morning i realized that some packages never arrived. Got shipped to an old address (my fault). 24 hour chat support–in less than 4 minutes, they refunded me, apologized for the problem (it was my fault) and I reordered and they waived expedited shipping.

          2. JimHirshfield


  3. Barry Nolan

    There’s also less drive to upgrade iPad. Older iPads work just fine, long after their phone contemporaries have been moved on. In our house, iPad 1, 2, 3 continue to work exceptionally well at their primary jobs – browser, YouTube, Netflix.Phones on the other hand have an inbuilt two year upgrade cycle (faster, lighter, bigger, 4g) juiced by carrier subsidies. In many regards, iPads early excellence and incredible adoption, is now holding them back. .

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Is this likely because people care for them better and don’t bring them around with them as much? Is that your own experience with them?

      1. Barry Nolan

        Yup, plus the ones used by small people come in indestructible body armor!

        1. Matt Zagaja

          On the flip side for early adopters like me, my iPad held its resale value really well. I got a few hundred dollars for my iPad 2 from Gazelle which I then used to upgrade to iPad Air.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            What the world looks like when technology isn’t designed to become obsolete..

          2. Barry Nolan

            QED: Your old iPad lives on in the secondary market

        2. CJ

          I’ve got two of those in my house! Worth their weight in gold!

    2. jason wright

      “Phones on the other hand have an inbuilt two year upgrade cycle”yes, they do at the moment, but this could change, and well within Fred’s 5 year window.If the modular design and build approach being taken by the Google Ara phone and Phonebloks by Dave Hakkens reach critical mass then the two year cycle could come to an end. i hope that happens.p.s. the sealed tablet may not survive when an endoskeleton chassis can accept modular screens in several sizes. Over to you Apple.

      1. LE

        “they do at the moment, but this could change, and well within Fred’s 5 year window.”Essentially what happened with desktop PC’s but that did take a considerable amount of time until it reached diminishing feature returns.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          Agreed. Once Windows XP came out the desktop was useful for the majority of people and use cases and many stopped seeing the need to upgrade. For reasons unclear some even protested when XP was discontinued.

      2. Barry Nolan

        I had the honor of working the processor team that was hired by Apple. The amount of optimization for mobile is insane. The idea that you could plug and play modules is equally insane. Rather the competition to watch out for are the sub $50 Android forks from China.

        1. jason wright

          i don’t see it as competition. i see it as a new paradigm. insanity sounds good.

    3. obarthelemy

      That kind of use could spell trouble for Apple, too: no need to pay an Apple premium, any tablet can do that.

      1. jason wright

        fools and their money….

    4. ShanaC

      So why isn’t the cheap tablet market catching on?

      1. Richard

        When did cheap electronics ever catch on?

      2. Barry Nolan

        Generally poor. (for now).

  4. Jan Schultink

    I think the replacement cycle of an iPad is longer than a phone

    1. JimHirshfield

      Agreed. I have yet to upgrade… mainly because I never bought one.

  5. Shaun Dakin

    Personally I agree. We have an iPad (2) and I USED to use it all the time. Since I got my first Android Samsung phone a few years ago, however, I do EVERYTHING on that phone and I hardly ever use the iPad.I just upgraded to the S5 Samsung and love it. So fast, so clear, so portable.From a reading perspective, I prefer Kindle (black and white), and not the iPad.Thanks for the data !

    1. JimHirshfield

      I agree. I’m happy browsing and viewing movies on other devices. Not sure what I would do on an iPad that I don’t do happily on my other devices.

  6. pointsnfigures

    one of the problems I have on my phone is search. Google is inefficient, and an in app search engine would be great. problem is most apps are not good at search.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Why in app? Is it a real need or just a mental barrier that you don’t like switching from app to search?

      1. pointsnfigures

        don’t like switching at all. For example, if I open up Yelp, I want efficient search within Yelp.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Agreed as regards an app like yelp who’s primary function is the discovery or research of something (e.g. restaurants). Ironically, wasn’t it Google that misappropriated yelp data in their search results?

  7. RichardF

    They will def get down in price and quicker than 5 years. Here in the UK Tesco have brought out the Hudl which can bought for $84. Is it as good as the nexus 7? no but it is good enough. My 7 year old has a nexus 7, i have a samsung 10 inch my wife has an ipad mini and I am still going to get a Hudl because at that price it can be a back up device, play spotify etc.Having said that I am a chromebook convert. Absolutely love it.

  8. Mac

    “Design and build for the smartphone.”I’m designing now with an emphasis on ‘responsive’ design for all three devices.Very curious what A VC regulars use when reading and commenting on Fred’s posts.PC/laptop – 97%tablet – 2%smartphone – 1%

    1. JimHirshfield

      50% smartphone for me. Estimated. We actually have this data. I just don’t have it handy.

      1. Mac

        Thanks, Jim.

    2. Richard

      100% smartphone

      1. Mac


        1. Richard

          I’m on the west coast and normally take my look at avc at 5am over tea while at Starbucks.

          1. Mac

            Ha! You may be the only one that does that.

          2. meredithcollinz

            95% smartphone. If I’m gong to comment, will usually switch to laptop. But on iPhone right now!

          3. Mac

            Thank you, Meredith. I appreciate your input. I’m wondering if the percentages reflect a generational trend as well. May factor into the metrics.

          4. Guest

            I’m not sure. I’m no spring chicken and I think they are the ones really attached to their phones. I dislike typing on my phone, but I do like how contained everything is and prefer it for reading blogs and email. I rarely use my iPad bc the UI doesn’t feel as convenient or comfortable as my iPhone. If I have to type, it’s laptop all the way. Will be interesting to see what you discover!

          5. Mac

            Thanks again. I’m finding people work across devices if they have more than one.

    3. jason wright

      100% laptop

      1. Mac


    4. William Mougayar

      Part of the iOS selling point for developers is they have to develop once, and then adapt for the various devices size factor.

      1. Mac

        Thanks, William. I understand. Designing based on all platforms. My contention is that although Apple’s data suggest that PC’s and tablets have topped out, consumer’s replace their smartphones far more often than the other devices. Thus, I’m more interested in the percentages of daily ONLINE use across all these devices for a clearer picture. I haven’t seen that data anywhere. Any suggestions. Just curious how that breaks down for A VC followers.

        1. William Mougayar

          “percentages of daily ONLINE use across all these devices for a clearer picture.” that’s a good metric to look at. I’m about 50/50 macbook air / iphone. I don’t use the tablet that much anymore.

          1. Mac

            Thanks again, William. I’ll let you know when I find it.

    5. Kirsten Lambertsen

      >99% laptop<1% smartphone

      1. Mac

        Thanks, Kirsten. I find I’m far more productive using my pc/laptop.

    6. Matt Zagaja

      90% laptop, 10% tablet.It’s easier to type responses on the laptop. I do use the tablet for reading the site once in a while.

      1. Mac

        Thanks, Matt. I enjoy engaging and typing is an issue for me as well.

    7. andrewjude

      100% I will read avc along with many other great blogs on my laptop. Long form content that is in the web requires a full keyboard to reply to comments, take screen grabs, save things to evernote or bookmark notable items.It is quite frankly a chore trying to do any of the above on a tablet device like an iPad.

      1. Mac

        Thank you, Andrew. I haven’t thought about saving to Evernote. I think ease of use for long form content is a factor for most people. For me, it’s still the PC/laptop….regardless of the mobile experience.

        1. andrewjude

          I’d recommend downloading the Evernote clipper if you’re using the Chrome browser. It is far superior to other screen shot plugins and you can edit it very very easily without creating distorted images or amateur “drag from the edge to shrink/enlarge.” Try it out.

          1. Mac

            Thanks again, Andrew. I’ve never tried that. I will now!

    8. Drew Meyers

      laptop – 98%smartphone – 2%

      1. Mac

        Thanks, Drew. Same with me. I’m just more efficient using my PC/laptop. If i could find some metrics I think it would trend that way.

    9. sigmaalgebra

      PC — 100%

      1. Mac

        Thank you.

  9. Richard

    BE graphs are a good example of Conformation Bias that we spoke about yesterday. There are other explanations for the graph. Look at the time to reach 40 million users. The Ipad did it in 1/3 of the time. These graphs need a more rigorous analysis. What part of the ipad user data is entrerprise? What is its growth rate of consumer and enterprise? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but what I do know is assuming the a time series can be estimated using just a quick view of a graph on a cell phone is risky at best.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Read the post backwards. I guarantee you’ll hear “Steve is dead…”

      1. Richard

        Dick Costello couldn’t have nailed it better. Laughing in the AM. standup comedy in your past?

    2. Dave

      I thought Evans’ analysis was more than confirmation bias. His post and responses on his blog and twitter, all struck me as being perplexed by the data and unable to form a firm conclusion particularly when you factor in Apple’s statements on new user v upgrade sales.And Jim’s message made me laugh out loud as well!

    3. Benedict Evans

      The time taken issue is a red herring – iPhone launched with no distribution at the wrong price and weak features – really an MVP. Unfortunately the other data you mention isn’t available.

      1. Richard

        Look at it from another perspective. The perspective of the role that China and the Chineese middle class will play. It’s hard to imagine the Ipad (or any technology wrapped in a best in class american brand) reaching a plateau without the chinese market reaching a plateau. With just a dozen stores on the Chinese mainland, it may be a little early to look at current sales numbers as the steady state.

        1. Guest

          The lust for Apple products in China may be overstated, or at least abating. This from January:A hint of the challenges was apparent on Friday, when customers were finally able to buy iPhones from China Mobile. At a store in Beijing, only about a dozen customers showed up to buy iPhones, despite the appearance of Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive. It was a far cry from the long lines that usually accompany a big introduction in the United States

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        The time take was much less than the motivated replacement cycle time. That may be creating a temporary sales stall ?The time take may also be less than the time required for many tertiary commercial and industrial, especially medical, use cases to evolve ?

  10. Girish Mehta

    Regarding: “That means the tablet market is about 100mm units per year.Coincidentally, that is roughly where global PC sales topped out (also from Benedict’s post)” and ‘but if PCs and tablets top out at 80mm…”.This is not correct. Global PC sales crossed 100 mn units per year way back in 1999. They hit 350 million units in 2010, 2011 and 2012.Updt: I think Benedict’s chart for PC sales is for quarterly numbers.

    1. Elia Freedman

      From a couple of years ago: US sales were 90M/year. Global was 350M (assuming we can trust this data):http://www.statisticbrain.c

      1. Girish Mehta

        Yes, it was 350 mn for 2010, 2011 and 2012..then declined to about 315 mn in 2013.

    2. fredwilson

      yup. you are correct. i’ve fixed the post. thanks.

  11. William Mougayar

    I think there are 3 factors that will determine what happens next:price, size of devices, and what Apple does.

  12. kirklove

    Bean watches vids on an iPad. When I put them on the TV she’s not even interested. It’s kind of amazing and kind of scary. I think Tablet viewing will surpass TV viewing with her generation.Also Phones and Tablets could continue to meld moving toward a 5-inch experience that meets kind of in the middle.

    1. William Mougayar

      Yep, it’s called Phablets.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Interestingly, both my kids (4, 6) are begging me for a computer with ‘keys I can tap’. They both have a tablet of their own.

      1. Anne Libby

        They want to be like Mom!

      2. sigmaalgebra

        If we had tablets first and then suddenly someone came out with “keys I can tap”, then that would be considered a ‘disruptive, game changer’ — it’s SO much better; WHY did it take us so long to see that? :-)!So, good for the insight of your children who never got the full influence of the Apple marketing message! :-)! “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” — Yoda.Of COURSE keyboards are MUCH easier to use, but you have to understand, tablets are a much later thing!Same thing once people discover that a two button mouse with a scroll wheel that tilts and acts as a switch is MUCH better than just one finger on a screen. Besides, have to keep carrying around a bottle of glass cleaner, a roll of paper towels, and a trash bag for cleaning the screen!

    3. LE

      “5 inch”Maybe for women who carry pocketbooks. But for men who like to carry a phone that fits in a pocket that might be (for both weight and size) a non starter.At least that’s the demarc that I have for a useable device.

    4. Matt Zagaja

      I think phablets are the netbooks of the mobile world. They seem cool and some people genuinely like them and are cheap enough to not be a huge investment but people will soon realize how impractical they are and they’ll die out.

  13. Elia Freedman

    The smartphone was a strange beast, I think, because it was built on top of the feature phone business and subsumed its market. The world was already carrying a phone and we used those phones for communication: voice and text messaging. So when we bought smartphones, what apps really helped make it take off? Voice and text messaging. So Twitter took off and Facebook and WhatsApp and Line and a bunch of others that are communication platforms. The phone itself was used before for communication and is used still for communication. At its core even Uber is a communication app, or at least that’s where it is revolutionary. A private car paid for with credit card isn’t. It’s the idea that you can do it from a phone and see where your driver is.What’s the other things that have done well on smartphone? Games and entertainment apps. These are easy to explain, too. I’m bored and need instant entertainment. My phone’s in my pocket so it is convenient. My point is that there are long established use cases for the smartphones, a big chunk of which is because we have been using them in a non-smart form for 15 years now.What about tablets? The device is new. We’ve never had a highly portable piece of computerized glass before, like this, with a day’s battery life, that’s light and compact. So what do we use it for?I think that’s fundamentally what the slowdown in sales is about, not price. We don’t fully know yet. Yes, it’s an interesting reading device and I think that’s fueled a lot of the sales so far. But the best reading device is the one with us and that may very well turn out to be a 5″ phone.Even look at the apps we use on them. Most are just slightly reconfigured smartphone apps. In other words, we haven’t really figured out yet what we will use these for, just like it took us years to figure out exactly what we were going to use the PC for. At one point there was a debate as to whether command prompts or GUI was better, too.This isn’t to say that smartphones aren’t a good bet, just to say that I wouldn’t bet against the tablet. In some ways tablets are more interesting because each one of us has a higher likelihood of finding the business that helps sell tablets. I think the odds of that are less and less in smartphones.

    1. Info Sample

      The current command prompts vs GUI argument is mouse vs touch. I think touch will win.Trying to do PC tasks on an iPad is usually frustrating but sometimes the iPad/tablet does a job better. This leads to Benedict’s point about what our job really is. Our job isn’t Excel or Powerpoint writer, those are the means not the end. A new computing platform might help us realize this.PC stands for personal computer not box under your desk. A keyboard is an input method, an accessory. Why can’t a tablet be a personal computer?For that matter, why can’t a phone be a personal computer? It can but I agree with you – a phone is more of a communication device and a tablet is more of a personal computer.

      1. ShanaC

        But touch as an input is hugely limiting. Touch was never designed for this task. It was a designed for handing objects. A tablet isn’t a welding iron with a trigger.

        1. Info Sample

          I agree that touch is hugely limiting, but so was GUI when it was new. There are still many tasks that are better with command prompts. In time, we discovered new things GUI can do. We are doing the same with touch.Too bad we won’t know who’s right for 5-10 years.

  14. Terry J Leach

    I would say tablets will become the default reading, watching and non verbal communication device. The most innovative applications in a few years will have some social network communication.

  15. William Mougayar

    well, the evolution of mankind and the smartphones/tablets is strikingly similar.

  16. Sofia Fenichell

    If tablets become the default device than it makes sense given the stickiness of the iPad, that iOS share of handsets will experience some latent market share gains. If iPad keeps 80% tablet share, consumers will not want to have 2 O/S’s. So they will switch back to iOS to stay in the same ecosystem if they can afford it. A lot hinges on how Apple handles the low end in smartphones and also what Amazon does.Tablets will become the defacto reading, SHOPPING and VIEWING device. Let’s not forget those two big mainstays. They will grow in utility and inspiration.

    1. fredwilson

      Hard to see how Apple leads the way to the $50 tabletMy guess is Android might take us there instead

      1. Ajay Pal Singh

        Akash Tablet was supposed to be $50 tablet for masses in India (students)They updated the specs also, made it usable. Also some tablets in India are sub $100 already.

    2. Pete Griffiths

      I don’t follow this. It seems to me that things are likely to work in precisely the opposite direction. As Android continues to gain market share in phones to the degree that people don’t want to switch ecosystems they will want Android tablets and this will result in massive market share gains for Android on tablets (which is what I anticipate).I don’t think a lot will depend on how Apple handles the low end because they are simply not well positioned to do a good job there irrespective of whatever strategic choice they may feel obliged to make. They will lose the low end no matter what they do. And this means they continue to lose market share. In some geographies this means that they will not be the default developers environment which will further compound the problem.If one believes that Amazon has an important potential role to play in phones as well as tablets then watch out when the Chinese Goliaths like Alibaba enter this market. The sheer scale of the Chinese consumer market will determine economies of scale that will move world markets including smartphones. I just don’t see how Apple can compete with these companies at the price points they can deliver a functional product into the biggest market on earth.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        You may be underestimating the innovative digital-disruption headroom still available for exploitation by Apple and others.It seems to me that we have just begun scratching the iceberg on all the non-obvious, emergent, innovative-headroom that has been steadily fuelling Apple’s profit differentials for the past ten years.Health and Finance are as Mao would say “rotten doors” ready to be kicked in by disruptive digital-interface design. This does require innovators to ZOOM out and reintegrate the bigger picture but Apple has a proven track record and the necessary resource on hand.It seems obvious that iBeacon is laying the ground-plane to support distributed-device-integration disruptions of all kinds!

        1. Pete Griffiths

          You may be right. And in a sense that the bet. Can Apple innovate fast enough in a maturing product category to compensate for shrinking market share and well financed fast follower competitors? I don’t know. I do know however that it is going to be extremely hard. I am rather skeptical about Apple in application areas such as Health and Finance. They don’t seem to me to have much of a track record in applications with the exception of design and media. And the challenge with technologies such as Beacon is that they are easy to copy.I suspect (and could be wildly wrong) that Apple has better chances in areas such as wearables.

  17. Dave

    Hard to believe tablets would every fully take over, even with a drop in price point. Phone will always be smaller and more portable. The expansions of screens to 5 inches has really taken away the need for a tablet for many markets. My wife and kids rarely use the iPads anymore, except to play some games on.A keyboard will still be a quicker way to create words and numbers than a touch screen for a long time to come, particularly in crowded environments like a classroom. I know many believe voice commands will be the de facto standard, but that seems unlikely to me. Too much content is still created in crowded offices, on trains/planes, in houses or apartments, in classrooms for voice to ever be truly useful. Perhaps handwriting recognition but that seems super hard.In education, the interesting emergence has been chromebooks. I know a lot of schools in the Seattle area buying chromebooks rather than laptops or tablets. They found tablets too limiting, bigger laptops too expensive and too hard to manage. Purely cloud based chromebooks are more secure, easier to keep updated, easier to swap among students, allows students to easily work on projects at school and home (rather than carrying USB sticks), and much cheaper. And this is in the heart of Microsoft country.

    1. Sofia Fenichell

      I agree re your point on keyboards. People still need to write. I would also add that people are viewing alot on mobile phones. There was a recent netflix article that talked about how people often start an episode of House of Cards on their smartphone in transit and then get home and beam it on the big TV screen. I also think we are still so early in the days of the big screen to understand how it all comes together. The recent netflix cable deal is interesting.

      1. Dave

        True. At least in my own house, I see the phone/iPod touch (for teens) trumping iPad viewing. Talking to many other parents of teenagers and some friends who are high school teachers, I’m not alone in that. And also agree on the start on one device, move to another which blurs the lines.

        1. Sofia Fenichell

          My 5 year old prefers to watch Octonauts on the iPhone instead of on the big screen and it really bothers me! It feels like it must be bad for their eyes! I think they like the immediacy of it and the personalisation. On TV there are so many barriers to entry for little ones with all those remote controls. Little kids feel empowered on little devices. Not sure that is such a good thing!

    2. ShanaC

      I agree about keyboards. I remember when the first iPad was introduced, the hottest accessory was a keyboard. The air, if you could fold the screen back and have it turn into a touch screen, actually would be a better choice for most people.

  18. William Mougayar

    The evolution of mankind and the smartphones/tablets is strikingly similar.

    1. jason wright

      at the time the Neanderthal was the biggie….

  19. Dave

    It will be interesting if anyone can actually crack the code on a useable hybrid with a removable screen that really works to blur the form factors. For most use cases by volume, particularly at home, I love my iPad air. But for a key small subset of important use cases I need a keyboard and the ability to use multiple apps. A keyboard for the iPad air doesn’t get me there and a Macbook Air isn’t right for carrying around the house to look at while the kids control the TV.

    1. William Mougayar

      i agree.

  20. Conrad Ross Schulman

    mcdonalds should put one on the dollar menu

  21. Benedict Evans

    (The second two charts are both quarterly – PC sales are a little over 300m a year – smartphones were 1bn last year and phones 1.7bn)The funny thing about tablet sales is that iPad has 80-90% of observable use but under half of volume. Huge sales of very cheap generic androids ($50-150) already, but used quite differently.

    1. ShanaC

      So how are the android tablets being used?

    2. fredwilson

      thanks Benedict. i corrected the post.

  22. BlairMacGregor

    Ben and Chris Dixon did a podcast on the subject as well, which you can find here:…One of the things that came up in the course of that conversation that I think is as important (or more) than replacement cycles is app development and the inherent advantages that smartphone hardware has over tablets. Anything contextual or location-based is going to get built for the phone, since the device is always with you, as opposed to the tablet which could just as well be left behind for the day by most people. This creates an entire market for apps that I don’t think will ever exist for tablets unless they get smaller, cheaper and more portable.

  23. andrewjude

    The iPad is pretty much an ‘always on’ device as a London commuter. The device plus Kindle app means i’ll read at least 2 books a week/102 per year plus the odd game to pass the time if I tire of reading.However, now at long last (and long overdue) we have MS Office for iPad. Say what you want about Microsoft but this is truly epic especially for enterprise users. I can even see more and more sales people spending more time on the road with just the iPad and 3/4G connection to load up presentations, sales collateral, product demos etc.

    1. Dave

      Enterprise usage will be limited initially by the need for a relatively expensive subscription to Office 365 online and the need to use OneDrive. If your subscription is personal, your employer won’t be happy with moving its documents over to your personal OneDrive. If your employer still runs its own Exchange server, then it generally won’t have corporate level OneDrive accounts to use. Understandable model for Microsoft to adopt but a tough one for many users.

  24. William Mougayar

    MG Siegler says “the iPad got too successful, too quickly. And everyone (including Apple) got spoiled by those insane numbers.”…

  25. Jason Coleman

    I like your update. Would have been my reply.

  26. vruz

    There are sub $100 tablets available already, they just aren’t iPads. Not fancy ones but they run recent versions of Android. Maybe it’s just that most people don’t read a lot and don’t produce a lot of non-trivial content.Or maybe it’s just that devs are doing a lousy job producing apps that justify using a tablet.There’s no escaping that tablets are less productive devices than laptops and similarly mobile to them, whilst they don’t offer the same mobility that smartphones do.But indie devs and startups aren’t in the business of selling more tablets anyway, so that’s something to be fixed by Apple and Google, delivering office and creative suites for that form factor.

  27. Pete Griffiths

    Tablets: do not support as many uses cases as phones and hence will remain a smaller (though huge) marketPhones: will further grow and the Chinese are coming. We can expect a wave of high quality Chinese smartphones that will constitute a real threat to incumbents as the market matures (eg has been regularly argued that the iOS / Android conflict differs fundamentally from the mac / wintel conflict. I don’t buy it. Scale will always matter. The difference, and it is an important one, is that the market Apple will be left with will still be a huge market.

  28. sigmaalgebra

    > Design and build for the phone. Because that’s where the users are and that is where they will be.That conclusion does not follow from the rest. Even if everyone has a smartphone, that does not mean that they don’t also have and use a tablet, laptop, desktop, or workstation. The users will not all or always “be” on a smartphone.Instead, ‘real work’ with computers remains crucial and is becoming more so, and little real work will be on smartphones if only because the screen and the keyboard are too small and lots of important software won’t run there. E.g., lots of people use Excel for important work, and, because of the small screens and keyboards, smartphones are no good for such work and never can be before people start wearing special glasses. Someone developing a high end engineering design package will be selling to users who want a big screen, great keyboard, great pointing device, etc. and just cannot get their work done with just a smartphone.Smartphones are computers, new computers, and have some unique advantages, but will not stop usage of all older forms of computers. So, not all users will “be” on smartphones, even if they have several of them. Instead, there are many millions of computer users who, for crucial parts of their computer usage, will essentially never move to smart phones.Someone gave me a cell phone, and I never use it. I don’t have a smartphone and don’t want one. I wouldn’t hit a hog in the ass with a 55 gallon trash bag full of the latest smartphones. One reason is, far and away the program I use most is my favorite text editor, and there is essentially no chance that it would run on a smartphone. That editor is a great tool, likely the most important in my computer usage, and it will be pried out of my cold, dead fingers. Also high on my list of what are just crucial are a good hierarchical file system and good scripting languages, e.g., Rexx and maybe Power Shell, and the chances of getting such tools on a smartphone soon are low. Also a smartphone is too easy to lose thus risking for me big losses in my crucial data. Also I have a good system of backup and recovery with at least two copies, on different storage devices, of everything at least one day old, and four copies of everything much older; I couldn’t do that on a smartphone.Uh, a big collection of users not eager or able to move to smartphones are the users of the Web, and we don’t want to neglect those. Why? Mostly current Web pages look awful on a small screen, awful on many laptops and tablets and still worse on smartphones.Yes, since smartphones are still relatively new and since they do have some unique capabilities, there are some opportunities to develop for smartphones.Net, develop for the devices your users want to use, and those will not nearly all be smartphones, even if everyone on the planet has the latest smartphone.For my project, sure, I designed all the Web pages to be exactly 800 pixels wide and to look good from any Web browser up to date as of about five years ago. So, the pages stand to look good on nearly all recent smartphones. And users need to do very little typing. So, yes, I am very much hoping to get good usage from all the Web users in the world and also 50%+ of all the smartphone users in the world, all with exactly the same Web pages and Web servers. So, I very much welcome users of smartphones. Still, I also want and expect to get users of tablets, laptops, desktops, workstations, etc. and am not developing just for smartphones.

  29. Bala

    I saw this post first on my Twitter Feed, read it on my Android Phone and then came back to my laptop to check out the graphs. Mobile first is still the trend… make your product/service/content Mobile friendly everything else will follow.

  30. jamesbartlett

    This has to be largely down to the increasing popularity of “phablets” which come under the smartphone category. Galaxy note sold 10 million in 2 weeks. People are seeing them as the best of both worlds in one device.

  31. Potenza Global Solutions

    I saw this post on my twitter feed on my Samsung tablet.So first make your website responsive of mobile friendly then every one will able to view it.

  32. Filippo

    Phablets will certainly take over both PC AND phone market, it is just a question of Human interface. The day where a traditional PC docking station can become a standardized open software, we’ll be able to connect over a secured cordless protocol to any screen, mouse and keyboard, anywhere, securely. Let’s call them à “work dock”, they can be at my office, internet café, hotels, home, etc. People want to be mobile, bring all their stuff with them. Let’s do this in the electronic world. Applications can run in Clouds, but they have to be redesigned for this purpose. We’re on the way of an always connected World. The phablet will be our vehicle.

  33. Gian Fulgoni

    To accurately gauge today’s consumer demand, I think we need to look at the growth in the cumulative number of owners of smartphones and tablets. comScore data shows that as of March 1 2014, there were 163 million smartphone owners in the US, up 22% vs. year ago. There were 87 million owners of tablets, up 51% vs. year ago. There is no evidence that the number of owners of either device in the US has plateaued.

    1. fredwilson

      hi Gian. nice to hear from you.that data is very useful. can you tell us the breakdown of those tablet numbers in the US between iOS and Android?if iPad purchases have plateaued, based on Apple’s data, then i am wondering if a meaningful part of that 51% growth is Android tablets

      1. Gian Fulgoni

        If we compare Android tablets and iPads, Android accounts for about 56% of cumulative owners and iPad 44%. Interestingly, Android grew 51% vs. year ago while iPads were up 52%. So no evidence that iPad ownership has plateaued (even though sales have). Also, bear in mind that these are US consumer data and don’t include B2B buying

        1. fredwilson

          wow, that is US data?android tablets are bigger than iPads in the US?

  34. Jeffrey Nathan

    Where are you getting these crazy numbers? Even a simple google search would show you that the tablet market was 220,000 in 2013 moving to 400,000 by 2017.