IDC's Latest Tablet Sales Predictions: 10 Surprising Facts

IDC's Latest Tablet Sales Predictions: 10 Surprising Facts
Demand for Tablets Is Actually Down
Shipments Will Decline Based on Previous Forecasts
Sales Growth Is Slowing Sharply
Tablets Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Expected
Phablets Are Cutting Into Tablet Sales
So-Called 2-in-1s Will Greatly Impact the Market
Smaller Tablets Are in Less Demand
The Midrange Is Still the Sweet Spot
Big Tablets Will Grow in Popularity
Windows Tablet Market Share Will Rise
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IDC's Latest Tablet Sales Predictions: 10 Surprising Facts

By Don Reisinger

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Demand for Tablets Is Actually Down

There's less demand for tablets than just about any analyst had expected. Although tablets are still selling to the tune of hundreds of millions of units, there are fewer people in the market looking for a new slate. That might change if a major company, like Apple, rolls out a new device that dramatically changes the predominant device design, but for now, according to IDC, demand looks like it won't rebound.

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Shipments Will Decline Based on Previous Forecasts

With demand down, it shouldn't surprise anyone that shipments will also be down compared with earlier forecasts. In fact, IDC had anticipated that worldwide tablet shipments this year would hit 260.9 million units. The research firm has now changed its estimate to 245.4 million units.

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Sales Growth Is Slowing Sharply

The growth in the tablet market is still there, but it's not nearly as high as it once was. IDC reported that in 2013, year-over-year tablet shipments were up nearly 52 percent. In 2014 that figure will only grow by 12.1 percent, which is a striking decline in year-over-year growth.

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Tablets Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Expected

So, what's affecting demand for tablets? According to IDC, devices are serving their purposes longer than expected. IDC reports that tablets are lasting several years for users, and when they decide to buy a new one, they give the older model to a family member, effectively eliminating that second possible sale. It's causing a dramatic shift in our understanding of the tablet space.

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Phablets Are Cutting Into Tablet Sales

Surprisingly, phablets are becoming a major problem for tablets, as well. The devices, so-called because they are bigger than typical smartphones but smaller than tablets, are gaining in popularity. According to IDC, many of the people the company surveyed said that the phablets' large screen size was enough for computing needs, eliminating their need for a tablet.

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So-Called 2-in-1s Will Greatly Impact the Market

Microsoft might be on to something with the Surface Pro 3. Although IDC doesn't believe the Surface Pro 3 will greatly impact the tablet market, the idea that a slate will be both a small notebook and a tablet is expected to gain popularity in the next year. That will help the tablet market, but cause a slight shift in buying preferences that companies must be prepared for.

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Smaller Tablets Are in Less Demand

The demand for smaller tablets is expected to decline over the next several years. At the end of 2013, devices with screens between 7 and 8 inches accounted for 55 percent of the tablet market. By 2018, that will fall to 44.5 percent, according to IDC.

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The Midrange Is Still the Sweet Spot

For tablet makers, the sweet spot is still the place to be. At the end of last year, tablets with screen sizes between 8 and 11 inches owned 44.1 percent of the market. By 2018, that number will grow to 48.9 percent, becoming the most popular form factor in the tablet market.

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Big Tablets Will Grow in Popularity

Tablets with screen sizes of 11 inches and above haven't been too popular, accounting for just 1 percent of sales in 2013. However, by 2018, that figure will grow to 6.6 percent, supporting the idea from IDC that so-called "2-in-1" tablets will be more popular over the next several years.

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Windows Tablet Market Share Will Rise

Windows currently has a small share of the tablet market, but that will change soon. According to IDC, Windows' share of the tablet market will "double between now and 2018." That doesn't necessarily mean the share of Microsoft-branded tablets will double, but Windows will gain in popularity.

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