404 Forecasts


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This above chart is a look back as well as a look ahead. While forecasting is an imperfect science, and updates to forecasts are required annually, there is more market intelligence behind these numbers than meets the eye. Yet as you look at the above chart many questions need to be asked. Here are a few:

  1. What is the breakdown of screen sizes as a part of the smartphone forecast?
  2. What are the ASP brands as a percentage of smartphone sales over the time period?
  3. What are the sales breakdowns of PCs from consumer versus commercial?
  4. What is the mix of PC forecasts for both desktops and notebooks over this period?
  5. What is the break down of tablet screen sizes as a percent of the tablet forecast?

Those are just a few to start. When looking at forecasts, I like to think of each category as an onion. Unless the onion is peeled back and each layer further examined then the data is somewhat limited in its usefulness.

Looking at the above forecasts do not highlight the underlying trends in the market place. This is why, as an example, I broke out 9″ tablets as its own forecast line. Of course this form factor is included in the overall tablet forecasts but looking at it broken out brings with it more important observations.

This form factor, for example, begins to impede on the area where the consumer PC was once the only player in town. People are not replacing their PCs with small tablets, although small tablets are certainly many people’s first bigger screen computing device in emerging markets. The 9″ and greater screen size tablet will impact the future of the traditional PC more than the smaller tablets will. This is why I broke it out separately in that chart. There is still more to the story but looking at tablet forecasts within their respective screen size volumes and price bands are all key indicators of what is happening in the market.

Peeling back the onion in my forecasts it is likely 9″ tablets will outsell the notebook(clamshell) form factor by end of 2017 but highly likely it will happen by 2018.

This peeling back of the onion can’t stop there. I still have work to do on the tablet onion, which is my current focus. What are the price bands of tablets as a percentage of current and future market sales? What percent will be iOS, Android, Windows, and AOSP (Android open source), or something else? What are the major segments of tablets? Will it splinter beyond tablet PCs, kids tablets, media tablets, etc? Should we count the tablets that mount on walls at retail, or are used as menus at restaurants, or as interactive displays in museums and other public spaces as internet of things devices or as tablets? These are all things that require further research. I find as I go deeper on each of these things new questions arise that require even more research.

I know folks in the media like to bash forecasts. As I stated, it is an imperfect science. Yet many companies in the industry need and want to hear some sound logic and market research to help them shape their strategy going forward and justify investments currently being made for future products in certain markets. Although it is imperfect it is worth it to try and sort out.

  • stefnagel

    Great idea, Ben. Suggestion for writing ideas: Blog about what you are currently reading.

  • benbajarin