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Tablets Passing PCs in Shipments Worldwide

By Daniel Santa Cruz
September 17, 2013 - News

Tablets are expected to surpass PCs in total number shipped worldwide, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker.

While the smart connected device market (PCs, tablets and smartphones) is expected to grow 27.8 percent worldwide year over year in 2013 – a slight decrease from a 30.3 percent uptick in 2012 – the growth will mainly be driven by tablet and smartphone shipments. The outlook for PCs for 2013 has been lowered by 10 percent.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, IDC expects tablet shipments to surpass total PC shipments for the first time. While PC shipments are still expected to be greater than tablet shipments for the full year, IDC predicts that tablet shipments will surpass total PC shipments on an annual basis by the end of 2015. Smartphones will continue to be shipped in high volumes, passing 1.4 billion units in 2015 and making up 69 percent of all smart connected device shipments worldwide.

IDC says the worldwide smart connected device market will jump 10.6 percent this year, but that number will slow to 3.1 percent in 2017 as markets become saturated. By the end of 2013, the value of all these devices is expected to be around $622 billion; $423 billion of that revenue will come from sub-$350 smartphones and tablets collectively.

"At a time when the smartphone and tablet markets are showing early signs of saturation, the emergence of lower-priced devices will be a game-changer," according to Megha Saini, research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker. "Introducing new handsets and tablet devices at cheaper price points along with special initiatives like trade-in programs from Apple and Best Buy will accelerate the upgrade cycle and expand the total addressable market overnight."

Lower-cost devices will drive interest worldwide and help spark uptake among first-time buyers in commercial sectors like education, according to IDC. A new round of device cannibalization is also expected to take place as large-screen (5+ inch) smartphones will start to have an impact the smaller (7-8 inch) tablet market.

"The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalization impacting different categories,with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalizing PC sales," said Bob O'Donnell, program VP, Clients and Displays. "Over the next 12-18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called 'phablets', will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets."

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