As the global tablet PC market has been suffering from a slump for years, Samsung Electronics and Apple are expected to launch their new tablet PCs this spring. People are paying attention to whether or not a head-to-head contest between the first and second rankers will create a boom in the tablet PC market.
Samsung Electronics will take the wrap off Galaxy Tab S3 at a new product launch event in Barcelona, Spain on February 26, the day before the opening of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017. The Korean IT giant has unveiled its smartphone Galaxy S series at the MWC, but this year, the Galaxy Tab S3 will fill the void left by the Galaxy S8 due to the end of production and sales of the Galaxy Note 7. The mobile device industry expects the Galaxy S8 to hit shelves in mid-April after its official launch in late March.
The Galaxy Tab S3 is a sequel to the Galaxy Tab S2 which was launched in Korea in August 2015, and will be launched in the Korean market in March. The new Samsung tablet is expected to sport a 9.6-inch super-organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, a 4GB RAM, Android 7.0 Nougat OS and a fingerprint sensor on the home button among others.
Apple is also expected to release three kinds of the next-generation iPads in March or April. It is forecast that the three major new products will be the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2, the 10.1- to 10.9-inch iPad with a narrow bezel and the follow-up model of the 9.7- inch iPad Air 2.
Inside and outside the IT industry, attention is paid to whether or Samsung Electronics and Apple's new tablet PCs will be a breakthrough in the stagnant tablet PC market. On the other hand, it is predicted that the tablet PC market will hardly grow, taking the current obscure tablet PC position into consideration. A drop in table PC sales is blamed on the launch of 5-inch or larger screen smartphones and table PC users’ difficulty in replacing laptops with table PCs due to the absence of a physical keyboard and thereby inconvenient typing.
The tablet PC market, which had been growing since Apple launched its first-generation iPad in April 2010, has contracted steadily since peaking at about 230 million units in 2014. Market research firm IDC said tablet PC shipments in the fourth quarter of last year hit 52.9 million units, down 20.1 percent from a year earlier. This means that table PC shipments lessened for nine consecutive quarters.
In 2016, tablet PC shipments totaled 174.8 million units, down 15.6 percent from the previous year. First-ranked Apple’s shipments dropped 18.8 percent to 13.1 million units, while second-placed Samsung slipped 11.4 percent to 8 million units. Market research firm Strategy Analytics (SA) also reported that tablet PC shipments added up to 63.5 million units in the fourth quarter of last year, down 9 percent from the previous year. Apple and Samsung shipped 13.1 million units, 8.1 million units, down 19 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
This is also the case in Korea. According to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, tablet PC mobile communication lines totaled 548,118 as of the end of last year. The figure is on a steady decline with 576,495 units in 2014 and 558,130 units in 2015.