IDC Lowers Tablet Forecast Amid Smartphone Competition

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tabletWith its 6.3-inch screen, it is easy to mistake the new Samsung Galaxy Mega smartphone for a tablet. It isn’t even the largest smartphone -- the Sony Xperia Z Ultra has a 6.4-inch screen. As the gap between smartphones and tablets shrinks, combined with the growing hype around wearable devices, the demand for tablets is weakening, according to a new IDC report.

In its “Quarterly Tablet Tracker” report, the research firm lowered its tablet forecast from a previous forecast of 229.3 million to 227.4 million units for 2013.

"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, tablets research director at IDC, in a statement.

In addition, as an earlier IDC report noted, Apple has not released a new iPad since last fall and the sales of competitors’ tablets have subsequently fallen.

Despite the reduction however, the tablet market is still relatively strong, according to the research firm. The 2013 forecast is 57.7% above 2012 shipments and it expects worldwide shipments to reach nearly 407 million units by 2017.

IDC takes a more cautious approach compared to Forrester Research and Deloitte’s rosier predictions for the tablet. According to a report released earlier this month from Forrester analysts JP Gownder and Michael O’Grady, tablets have become “mainstay” devices and approximately 905 million people will own a tablet by 2017.

According to Deloitte, tablets are driving more revenue than smartphones and are expected to generate $4.9 billion in ad revenue versus $3.4 billion from smartphones by the end of 2013.

While it is too early to know which research firm is right, speculations about updated tablets continue to grow. Rumors were swirling that Apple will soon unveil a new iPhone as well as a new iPad after Bloomberg cited an unnamed source who claimed the Cupertino, Calif.-based company would reveal both on September 10. Those rumors were quickly shot down however, and Bloomberg noticeably removed references to the iPad in its article.

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