Tablet sales continued to decline in the first quarter, states an IDC report, which found that shipments -- including 2-in-1 devices -- slid by 5.9% in Q1 from the same period a year ago. Apple's iPad continued to lead the tablet market, with a 26.8% share. Mobile analytics firm Flurry suggests the surge in large-screen smartphones -- the so-called "phablets" -- is eating into tablet sales.
With a high rate of tablet ownership and current owners satisfied enough with their devices to avoid upgrading, tablet sales growth will begin to level off this year, according to International Data Corp. Shipments are still expected to rise 19.3% year-on-year in 2014, down from 51.6% annual growth in 2013. "After years of strong growth, we expect the white-box tablet market to slow in 2014 as consumers move to higher-end devices that work better and last longer," IDC's Tom Mainelli said.
PC shipments will drop by 6.1% this year, IDC predicts, and it foresees little to no growth for shipments over the next four years. Shipments were down 9.8% last year. "Emerging markets used to be a core driver of the PC market, as rising penetration among large populations boosted overall growth. At the moment, however, we're seeing emerging regions more affected by a weak economic environment as well as significant shifts in technology buying priorities," IDC's Loren Loverde said.
Tablet shipments are projected at 84.1 million in the fourth quarter, while PC sales of 83.1 million are expected, according to IDC, which says total sales will get a boost from the introduction of less-expensive tablets. Smartphones and tablets retailing for less than $350 will soon account for more than two-thirds of mobile-device sales, IDC predicts.
The broad popularity of the iPad Mini aside, Android is expected to supplant Apple's iOS as the most popular tablet platform this year, research firm IDC says. Apple's insistence on keeping its tablet more expensive than the typical $200 price for Android's 7-inch tablets has cost the iPad-maker, IDC analysts say. IDC raised its estimate for 2013 tablet shipments by 11% largely because of sales of the smaller-screen devices.