Rising Windows tablet sales challenge mighty Apple

Microsoft tablet sales grow as the market slumps by 20 per cent in 2014.

Microsoft is releasing its Surface 3 in Australia on 1 May.

Microsoft is releasing its Surface 3 in Australia on 1 May.

A third horse is emerging in the tablet market as pioneer Apple faces competition from Microsoft as the launch of Windows 10 nears.

Only Windows tablets experienced an increase in sales in the second half of 2014. Research conducted by technology firm, Telsyte ,found that Microsoft’s growing share came largely at the expense of its rival, Google.

Sales of tablets running Google’s Android operating system led the market in the first half of 2014. Apple has since fought back to reclaim the top spot following the release of its iPad Air 2.

Overall tablet sales declined by 20 per cent in 2014. Most Australians who purchased a tablet did so in 2013 and see no need in upgrading, found Telsyte.

Emerging technologies are growing in popularity. More customers are buying smartwatches or fitness bands, said senior Telsyte analyst Alvin Lee.

“The average cost of a smart fitness band is similar to an entry-level tablet, making it a popular alternative purchase for those who already own a tablet,” said Lee.

Virtual reality and holographic headsets are expected to challenge the role of tablets. Samsung’s Gear VR was released earlier this year, with its successor for the popular S6 range expected to launch locally soon.

Growth is expected to return to the tablet category in 2015. Microsoft’s strategy to have one operating system work across an ecosystem of devices is expected to drive sales, said Foad Fadaghi, the managing director of Telsyte.

“Telsyte believes there will be strong demand of convertibles or 2-in-1 devices, as mainstream business and consumer users look to update to Windows 10 later this year,” said Fadaghi.

Microsoft is already taking orders for its new Surface 3, a 10.8-inch Windows tablet-computer priced from $699.

Two-thirds of Australians do not believe tablets will ever be their primary computing device. This sentiment has grown in popularity from 56 percent in 2013.

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