New kids in town: How smartwatches & phablets will curb tablet spending

August 29, 2013

That appears to be the message from IDC’s latest report, which details how the market research firm has lowered its tablet forecast for 2013 and beyond in light of growing demand for phablets and wearable technology.

In its latest Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker report, IDC predicts that worldwide tablet shipments will rise to 227.4 million units in 2013, which is down from the firm’s previous forecast of 229.3 million for the year, but still 57.7% higher than the company’s figures for 2012.

However, illustrating once more how this is just a small blip in the remarkable history of tablets, the Massachusetts-based firm reckons tablet shipments will grow to nearly 407 million units by 2017.

(For handy reference data about the tablet market, bookmark TabTimes State of the tablet market report)

Tablet growth: Hampered by phablets and wearable tech

IDC attributed the slowing demand to a lack of “major” product announcements and said that the holiday season could now be vital for the market as a whole.

"A lower than anticipated second quarter, hampered by a lack of major product announcements, means the second half of the year now becomes even more critical for a tablet market that has traditionally seen its highest shipment volume occur during the holiday season," said Tom Mainelli, IDC’s research director for tablets. Mainelli added that he expects most vendors to concentrate on pushing out low-cost models.

Such strategy is unlikely to entice consumers though who, according to IDC, will be eyeing up the increasingly-popular phablets and the first smartwatches, which are expected to be announced by Samsung and LG next month (Apple is also working on a smartwatch of its own, called the iWatch).

A separate research firm, Juniper Research, claimed earlier this week that smartwatch shipments will rise from one million units to 38 million units by 2018.

The firm says that this trend will be keenly felt in mature markets, such as North America and Western Europe, where the tablet market has become increasingly saturated.

But tablets are just starting work in enterprise

However, along with the long-term projection of future growth for the tablet market as a whole, there was one other good piece of news for tablet vendors and that is that these devices are hot right now in the commercial segment.

IDC highlights education and retail as two sectors that have been early on the trend and forecasts that the enterprise segment will double its 10% share in 2012 to 13% this year and 20% by 2017.

This result will come as a surprise to some people, not least because a recent study from  Non-profit organization APQC revealed that most employees favored laptops for business productivity. Another survey from Forrester indicated that one in three employees (35%) want their tablet to come with a keyboard.

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