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IDC: Larger Windows Devices To Weather Tablet Market Slowdown

The overall market for tablets and hybrid PCs is set for a slowdown, but demand for devices with larger screens will grow, according to research from IDC.

The market research firm revised its 2014 projections for the tablet market last week, reflecting lower-than-expected demand. More consumers are holding off on replacing their current tablets, or are giving them away as hand-me-downs whenever they do, IDC explained. Additionally, "phablet" devices -- defined by IDC as smartphones with displays larger than 5.5 inches -- are increasingly being used to perform the same functions as tablets.

As a result, IDC now expects the tablet market to ship 245 million units this year, down from the 261 million units it estimated previously. Year-over-year, the tablet market is expected to grow by 12.1 percent in 2014. That's significantly lower than the 51.8 percent growth recorded in 2013.

However, IDC says the tablet market will eventually adjust to the phablet incursion by focusing on larger-screened devices, which on average are priced 50 percent higher than tablets with 8-inch screens or smaller.

IDC pegged Windows tablets -- particularly Microsoft's new Surface Pro 3 device -- as beneficiaries of this trend toward larger screens. Bucking industrywide expectations of a "mini" Surface, Microsoft instead launched the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 last month and has been billing it as a potential laptop replacement.

"Microsoft is also expected to benefit from this shift as the share for Windows-based devices is expected to double between now and 2018," said IDC research analyst Jitesh Ubrani in a prepared statement. The firm projects Windows tablets will have 10.4 percent of the market in 2018, up from 5.3 percent in 2014.

Windows tablets are still expected to be a distant third behind first-place Android and second-place iOS. However, IDC projects each of those two platforms' market shares to slightly decline over the next four years. Android is expected to have 64.4 percent share in 2014 and 61.7 percent in 2018, while iOS will have 30.3 percent share in 2014 and 27.9 percent in 2018 (see graph).

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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