According to a recent IDC report, "Worldwide tablet shipments are expected to reach 221.3 million units in 2013, down slightly from a previous forecast of 227.4 million but still 53.5% above 2012 levels." Yet despite the stellar growth, IDC is now predicting that smartphones with large displays will hurt smaller tablet sales and benefit tablets like Apple's iPad Air. The new popular smartphones with larger displays will cut tablet sales growth to only 22% in 2014, according to the report.
IDC Tablet Research Director Tom Mainelli stated in their report that "In some markets consumers are already making the choice to buy a large smartphone rather than buying a small tablet, and as a result we've lowered our long-term forecast." In North America, the problem with tablets will be market saturation.
The market has trended toward small tablets in a big way over the last 24 months, but rise of large phones could well push consumers back toward larger tablets as the difference between a 6-inch smartphone and a 7-inch tablet is not great enough to warrant purchasing both, the research firm added.
For 2014, IDC projects growth of 22.2 percent to a total of 270.5 million units and single-digit growth by 2017. IDC added that Apple's new iPad Air, a thinner and lighter version of its 9.7-inch product, could herald another market transition back toward larger screens.