How is the tablet and 2-in-1 market shaping up in 2016 so far?

The analysts are in agreement - convertible laptops will propel the PC market forward for the next four years
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Anyone interested in buying a 2-in-1 ‘convertible’ laptop in 2016 is really very spoilt for choice. 

There are myriad models available from a host of vendors throughout the pricing spectrum, having become an attractive niche of a niche product among consumers, business and in education.

There are also a lot of names for what is essentially the same product. Convertible. 2-in-1. Detachables. Hybrid.

They’re all tailing about the same thing - a laptop that can be changed into a tablet and vice versa. But you know that. You probably sell loads of them.

So let’s look at recent trends and the addressable market for what we’ll call, in this article at least, 2-in-1s.

According to IDC, Western European shipments of ultra slim convertibles and detachables posted positive growth (44.7 per cent) to account for 18.4 per cent of total consumer shipments and 21.9 per cent of commercial devices in Q1 2016. That was up from 9.2 per cent and 16.3 per cent, respectively, from a year ago earlier. Nice. 

“Customers are looking for solutions that allow for flexibility,” says Andrea Minonne, research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “We want to access information, create content, or communicate without constraints. Addressing such market demand represents an opportunity for IT vendors.

“Convertible notebooks and detachables are the most suitable device to guarantee functionality and mobility at the same time. Both form factors have been well received in the market and have gained momentum across Western Europe.”

In the context of a desktop PC market that continues to contract, that’s particularly encouraging for the channel.

And it’s not just IDC. If we widen the product net to include ‘ultra mobile’ devices (if which 2-in1s are a segment), Gartner has some very good news for you indeed. It reckons the ultramobile premium segment is on pace to achieve revenue growth this year - the only segment of the PC market set to do so.

Total global sales are predicted by Gartner to reach $34.6 billion, an increase of 16 per cent from 2015. What’s more, it’s forecasting that in 2019, the ultramobile premium segment will become the largest in the PC market in terms of revenue, at $57.6 billion.

Gartner explains that this is thanks to replacement demand for traditional PCs and the touch experience that the 2-in-1 market provides. This situation, reasons Gartner, together with more innovative 2-in1 products, will entice users to not only replace their PC, but also look to upgrade to a device with more functionality and flexibility. 

Tremendous news. And several micro market trends are emerging to create a nice sales environment 2-in-1s. Firstly, vendors are beginning to follow Acer’s lead a produce budget machines for the more cost conscious buyer - the specs may not be a impressive as at the higher end, but the looks still make such units attractive buys. 

And there’s a sizeable mid-range too. For example, the Terra 360-15 convertible, boasting a 15-inch touch-screen, standing 20mm high and weighing 2.19kg. Designed to stand up against the bigger more established PC vendors on the market, the 360-15 boasts an affordable £849 price tag and launches later this year.

Secondly, with Windows 10 now in its second year and an anniversary update freshly available, consumers and business will be starting to buy decides powered by Microsoft’s OS with more confidence.

There’s also increasing demand for 2-in-1s from schools and other educational institutions, given the ability of the devices to adapt to different use cases in the classroom. 

Ultimately, Gartner has recommended that PC vendors adjust their portfolio of ultramobile premiums in markets such as North America, Western Europe, Greater China, Mature Asia/Pacific and Japan, where the ultramobile premium segment continues to grow. 

And if that’s advice that vendors heed, it would make sense for the retail channel follow suit.

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