(iTers News) – Consumers’ return to large screen computing devices is now combining with the growing popularity of phablets to slow down the shipments of tablet PCs. Reflecting the downward trend, market research firm IDC has adjusted its forecasts for 2014 worldwide tablet shipments to 245.4 million units, down from the previous forecast of 260.9 million units.
The new forecast represents a 12.1% year-over-year gain, far lower than the whopping 51.8% jump in 2013.
"Two major issues are causing the tablet market to slow down. First, consumers are keeping their tablets, especially higher-cost models from major vendors, far longer than originally anticipated. And when they do buy a new one they are often passing their existing tablet off to another member of the family," said Tom Mainelli, Program Vice President, Devices & Displays at IDC.
"Second, the rise of phablets – smartphones with 5.5-inch and larger screens – are causing many people to think twice their tablet purchases as the larger screens on these phones are often adequate for tasks once reserved for tablets," added he.
The share of phablet as a percentage of total smartphone shipments has more than doubled from 4.3% in the first quarter of 2013 to 10.5% in the first quarter of this year, or 30.1 million units.
Consumers’ renewed embrace for products with larger screens--like Microsoft's new 2-in-1, the 12-inch Surface Pro 3— are also depressing shipments of tablet PCs
"The shift back toward larger screens will mark a welcome sea change for most vendors as the average selling price for these devices will remain roughly 50% higher than the average sub-8-inch device," said Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. "Microsoft is also expected to benefit from this shift as the share for Windows-based devices is expected to double between now and 2018."
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, May 29, 2014
Note: Total tablet market includes tablets plus 2-in-1s. "Phablet" is defined as a smartphone with screen size of 5.5 to 7 inches.