iPad Slump Signals 'Massive Deceleration' in Tablet Shipments

The worldwide tablet market is poised for a 'massive deceleration' in 2014 as iPad shipments continue to decline, according to a new forecast from IDC.

The analyst firm on Tuesday predicted that tablet shipments will increase just 7.2 percent this year to 235.7 million units, compared to 52.5 percent growth last year. The main reason for the decline? A slowdown in iPad demand.

In fact, 2014 is expected to mark the first full year of decline in iPad shipments. However, the iPad and overall market slowdown doesn't come as too much of a surprise as tablet lifecycles have continued to lengthen, IDC said.

'In the early stages of the tablet market, device lifecycles were expected to resemble those of smartphones, with replacement occurring every 2 to 3 years,' Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, said in a statement. 'What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years. We believe the two major drivers for longer than expected tablet lifecycles are legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks.'

Meanwhile, hardware manufacturers have also made 'significant advancements' in the 2-in-1 product category, but most of these devices are built around the Windows 8 platform, which consumers are still hesitant about, IDC said. Shipments of these detachable devices are only expected to reach 8.7 million units in 2014, and account for just 4 percent of the total tablet market.

'Looking forward, the few unknowns that could impact overall tablet shipments are: the industry reaction to Windows 10; what Google does in this space with Android and Chrome OS; and Apple's rumored product line expansion,' IDC said. 'Despite all of these unknowns, it seems clear that consumers can be expected to hold onto tablets longer than smartphones.'

For more, check out PCMag's roundup of The 10 Best Tablets.


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