IDC: Apple iPad in First Annual Decline, Overall Tablet Market Slows
Not all is perfect at high-flying Apple (AAPL), despite its flirtation with the $700 billion market cap mark. Researcher IDC threw some cold water at the iPhone and iPad maker with new data predicting that full-year 2014 shipments of Apple’s iconic tablet will slide for the first time in the product’s history.
According to IDC’s figures, Apple will ship 64.9 million iPad units in 2014 for a 12.7 percent tumble over its shipment totals last year. What’s more, the vendor’s four-year prospects for the iPad don’t appear promising, with IDC projecting it to ship 70.1 million units by 2018, a 2.2 percent annualized growth rate.
The overall tablet market now is showing noticeable signs of slowing with a projected 7.2 percent growth rate from last year to total 235.7 million units shipped in 2014, IDC said. You could say that IDC saw the tablet slowdown coming–in early September, the researcher halved its 2014 tablet shipment projection to 233.1 million units worldwide, forecasting the segment to advance at 6.5 percent growth rate from last year rather than the 12.1 percent it previously estimated.
At 159.9 million units shipped for the year, Android-based tablets command 67.7 percent of the total market, a 16 percent spike over last year. Apple iOS-based tablets remain in second place with 27.5 percent of the segment while Microsoft (MSFT)-based Windows tablets made a big jump this year, with 10.9 million units shipped to occupy 4.6 percent of the market, moving 67.3 percent ahead of last year.
IDC said that users are holding on to their current tablets for a longer period of time, lengthening the platform’s lifecycle to where it closely resembles that of PCs instead of the rapid-replacement smartphone segment.
“The tablet market continues to be impacted by a few major trends happening in relevant markets,” said Ryan Reith, IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers program director.
“In the early stages of the tablet market, device lifecycles were expected to resemble those of smartphones, with replacement occurring every 2-3 years,” he said. “What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years.”
Ironically, the increased functionality of smartphones “for a variety of computing tasks” may be contributing to cramped tablet sales, Reith said.
IDC also suggested that a number of unknowns surround future tablet shipments, including Microsoft’s Windows 10, how Google (GOOG) proceeds on tablets with Android and Chrome OS, and the introduction of still more products from Apple.
“Despite all of these unknowns, it seems clear that consumers can be expected to hold onto tablets longer than smartphones,” IDC said.
One particularly interesting piece of data in IDC’s report is that emerging markets now command 50.6 percent of the worldwide tablet segment.