IDC has lowered its forecast for 2014 tablet shipments to 245.5m units compared to its previous forecast of 260.9m units as a result of competition from alternative products
This represents a 12.1% year-on-year growth rate though it’s significantly lower than the 51.8% year-on-year growth rate seen in 2013. That said, IDC is predicting an upsurge in the tablet market when new devices are introduced.
The analyst house attributes the downward swing to people holding onto their tablets much longer than anticipated and the increased growth in ‘phablets’ that is smartphones with 5.5-inch and larger screens.
Tom Mainelli, program vice president, devices & displays at IDC said: "...the rise of phablets... are causing many people to second-guess tablet purchases as the larger screens on these phones are often adequate for tasks once reserved for tablets.”
In the past year the phablet share of smartphone shipments has more than doubled, from 4.3% in the first quarter of 2013 to 10.5% in the first quarter of this year, representing 30.1 million units shipped.
Despite large phones impacting the near term growth of tablets IDC actually expects the market to bounce back with the introduction of new devices with larger screens such as Microsoft's new 2-in-1, the 12-inch Surface Pro 3.
Jitesth Ubrani, research analyst, WorldWide Quarterly Tablet Tracker at IDC, said the move back toward larger screens will be welcomed by most vendors given that the price for these devices is approximately 50% higher than the average price for 8-inch and smaller devices.
Of all the tablet vendors Microsoft is expected to benefit significantly from this shift as the share for Windows-based devices is expected to double between now and 2018.