It seemed like nothing could temper the industry analyst enthusiasm for media tablet market demand. But faced with growing competition from smartphones with larger displays and the prospect of new mobile device categories diverting consumer spending, International Data Corporation (IDC) has lowered its tablet forecast for 2013 and beyond.
IDC now expects worldwide tablet shipments to reach 227.4 million units in 2013 -- that's down from a previous forecast of 229.3 million, but still 57.7 percent above 2012 shipments.
Despite the slight reduction for this year, the market will continue to grow at a rapid pace and by 2017 IDC expects worldwide shipments to be nearly 407 million units. The company also adjusted its regional outlook, with maturing markets such as the U.S. now expected to cede share more rapidly to emerging markets such as Asia-Pacific.
"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, research director at IDC.
IDC expects that average selling prices to continue to compress as more mainstream vendors utilize low-cost components to better compete with the whitebox tablet vendors that continue to enjoy widespread traction in the market despite typically offering lower-quality products and poorer customer experiences.
While mature markets such as North America and Western Europe have driven much of the tablet market's growth to date, IDC now expects shipment growth to begin to slow in these markets.
Market saturation, increased adoption of smartphones with 5-inch and greater screens, and the eventual growth of the wearable category will impact tablet growth in all regions, but are likely to impact mature regions first.
As a result, IDC now anticipates that the mature market (comprised of North America, Western Europe, and Japan) will shrink from 60.8 percent of the worldwide market in 2012 to 49 percent by 2017.
As a result, emerging markets (comprised broadly of Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan), Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) will grow from 39.2 percent in 2012 to 51 percent in 2017.
Year-on-year growth is beginning to slow as the tablet market approaches early stages of maturity. Much of the long-term growth will be driven by countries like China where projected growth rates will be consistently higher than the worldwide average.
A secondary trend in the tablet market is the rise of tablets in the commercial segment. Education projects and adoption in vertical markets such as retail are contributing factors as this segment is set to slowly double from the 10 percent share it held in 2012 to 20 percent by 2017.