Strange as it may sound, the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker's latest forecast shows worldwide tablet shipments were expected to slow down in the coming quarter. While the 221.3 million units for 2013 is still 53.5% above 2012 levels, it could slow down to single-digit percentage by 2017, the research firm said.
One of the key reasons for this could be the fact that smartphones are gradually becoming large enough to replace tablets in many cases. The large tablet, mostly eight inches and above, has almost become a niche. So all the growth in the phablet category will be at the cost of tablets.
"In some markets consumers are already making the choice to buy a large smartphone rather than buying a small tablet, and as a result we've lowered our long-term forecast," said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets. One of these markets is India, where the phablet is a runway hit.
IDC says the transition toward larger tablets could be a positive development for Windows tablets, which generally benefit from a larger screen area. "Even so, Windows-based tablets are not expected to steal share from tablets running iOS and Android until the latter part of the forecast," a release said.
"For months, Microsoft and Intel have been promising more affordable Windows tablets and 2-in-1 devices," said Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst, Worldwide Tablet Tracker. "This holiday season, we expect a huge push for these devices as both companies flex their marketing muscles; however we still don't expect them to gain much traction. We're already halfway through the holiday quarter, and though there have been some relatively high-profile launches from the likes of Dell, HP, and Lenovo, we've yet to see widespread availability of these devices, making it difficult for Windows to gain share during this crucial period."
The lack of traction for Windows 8 tablets has already prompted Intel to look at Android options. IDC is predicting Android's market share to grow to 58 per cent in 2017 from the present 52 per cent. Apple's iOS, on the other hand, is predicted to fall 15 per cent to 30.6 per cent. Windows, meanwhile,is expected to grow to over 10 per cent.