International Data Corporation (IDC) has reduced its forecast for 2014 worldwide sales of tablets plus similar 2-in-1 convertible devices – due largely to the surge in demand for phablets, which appear to be blurring the line between smartphones and tablet devices and snatching an ever greater market share. IDC’s new forecast is for 245.4 million units in 2014, down from a previous forecast of 260.9 million units, and equaling a 12.1 percent y-o-y growth rate, down from e 51.8 percent growth in 2013.
“Two major issues are causing the tablet market to slow down. First, consumers are keeping their tablets, especially higher-cost models from major vendors, far longer than originally anticipated. And when they do buy a new one they are often passing their existing tablet off to another member of the family,” said Tom Mainelli, Program Vice President, Devices & Displays, in the IDC press release. “Second, the rise of phablets – smartphones with 5.5-inch and larger screens – 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.”
Mainelli’s first point at least underlines that while tablet sales may be trimming back, tablet stickiness and user penetration continues to increase. And the second point confirms that phones ideal for reading are gaining greater acceptance. So on b0th fronts, any Luddites eager to read a decline in ebook readership into these figures are likely to be disappointed.
According to IDC, “in the past year alone, 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.”