San Mateo, Calif. – Growth in worldwide tablet shipments will slow to 12.1 percent this year from 2013’s 51.8 percent because consumers are keeping their tablets longer than expected and because of rising sales of phablets, IDC said.
Phablets are smartphones with screen sizes of 5.5 inches to 7 inches.
IDC forecast 2014 shipments of 245.4 million tablets, including two-in-one tablets, or tablets with detachable keyboards offered by the tablet supplier. Convertible laptop/tablets with non-detachable keyboards, such as Lenovo's Yoga, are excluded from the statistics.
“Consumers are keeping their tablets, especially higher-cost models from major vendors, far longer than originally anticipated,” said IDC VP Tom Mainelli. “And when they do buy a new one, they are often passing their existing tablet off to another member of the family."
The rise of phablets, particularly in foreign markets, is “causing many people to second-guess tablet purchases as the larger screens on these phones are often adequate for tasks once reserved for tablets," he said.
With phablets affecting demand for smaller screen tablets, tablet vendors will shift their emphasis back to larger screen tablets, IDC said. In the past year, the phablet share of smartphone shipments more than doubled from 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013 to 10.5 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to hit 30.1 million units.
"The shift back toward larger screens will mark a welcome sea change for most vendors as the average selling price for these devices will remain roughly 50 percent higher than the average sub-8-inch device," said analyst Jitesh Ubrani. Microsoft will benefit from this shift, with the share for Windows-based devices expected to double between now and 2018," he said.