Later Tuesday in Chicago, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expected to announce a new, less expensive 9.7-inch iPad aimed at the education market. The Cupertino-based giant is hoping to lure K-12 customers away from Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) laptops that are priced below $200.
Ahead of today’s launch, Taiwan-based research firm TrendForce released its overview of the global tablet for 2018. The firm expects tablet shipments to dip by 0.2% year over year in 2018, from 152 million units shipped in 2017 to 151.7 million units this year.
Apple’s share of the market is also forecast to drop from 28.8% last year (43.8 million units shipped) to 28% this year (42.5 million units), a decline of 3%. Apple will remain as the top-ranked tablet vendor, however. Second-ranked Samsung is forecast to ship 24 million units this year for a 15.8% share, down 2% from 2017 shipments of 24.5 million units (16.1% share).
Two tablet makers expected to grow shipments this year are third-ranked Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and fourth-ranked Huawei. Amazon is projected to ship 14.6 million units this up, a gain of 7.8% year over year, for a 9.6% share of the market. Huawei shipments are expected to rise 14.2% to 12.5 million units.
Tablets, especially smaller ones like the defunct iPad mini, have been replaced by larger screen smartphones. The large screen smartphones are also likely to begin replacing larger tablets as consumers find that a larger smartphone serves the same purpose as a tablet, but is almost equal to a laptop for many users.
According to a report at Reuters, Apple accounted for just 17% of the K-12 education market in the third quarter of last year comprised of 12.3% devices running iOS and 4.7% of MacOS devices. Google’s Chromebook had 60% of shipments to schools and 22% of sales went to Microsoft.
Apple is unlikely to unveil a device that costs closer to $200 than to $300. The cheapest 9.7-inch laptop the company currently sells costs $330. We’ll know more later this morning.