Wearable computers and phablets to put a dent in tablet market share beyond 2013

29 Aug 2013

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Tech analyst IDC has lowered its forecast for tablet computer sales in 2013. Looking beyond 2013, it claims the arrival of wearable computing devices, ranging from Google Glass to smart watches from Samsung and Apple, as well as phablets with screens measuring more than 5 inches, will put a slight dent in anticipated sales of tablet devices.

IDC says it now expects worldwide tablet shipments to reach 227.4m units in 2013, down from a previous forecast of 229.3m but still 57.7pc above 2012 shipments.

Despite the slight reduction for this year, IDC says the market will continue to grow at a rapid pace and by 2017 it expects worldwide shipments to be nearly 407m units.

“A lower than anticipated second quarter, hampered by a lack of major product announcements, means the second half of the year now becomes even more critical for a tablet market that has traditionally seen its highest shipment volume occur during the holiday season,” explained Tom Mainelli, researcher director (tablets) at IDC.

“We expect average selling prices to continue to compress as more mainstream vendors utilise low-cost components to better compete with the whitebox tablet vendors that continue to enjoy widespread traction in the market despite typically offering lower-quality products and poorer customer experiences.”

New device categories to impact tablet sales

While mature markets such as North America and Western Europe have driven much of the tablet market’s growth to date, IDC expects shipment growth to begin to slow in these markets.

It says that market saturation, increased adoption of smartphones with screens measuring at least 5 inches, and the eventual growth of the wearable category will impact tablet growth in all regions, but are likely to impact mature regions first.

As a result, IDC now expects the mature market (comprised of North America, Western Europe, and Japan) to shrink from 60.8pc of the worldwide market in 2012 to 49pc by 2017.

As a result, emerging markets (comprised broadly of Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) will grow from 39.2pc in 2012 to 51pc in 2017.

“Year-on-year growth is beginning to slow as the tablet market approaches early stages of maturity,” said Jitsh Ubrani, research analyst for IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

“Much of the long-term growth will be driven by countries like China, where projected growth rates will be consistently higher than the worldwide average,” Ubrani said.

Samsung is expected to unveil its Galaxy Gear smart watch on 4 September, just ahead of consumer electronics show IFA in Berlin, while Google is expected to go mass market with its Glass eyewear computing product next year.

Smart watch image via Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com