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.