As increasing number of consumers go for phablets or smartphones with large displays, research firm IDC has revised its expected global tablet shipments downwards by over 6 million units to 221.3 million for 2013.

Earlier, the firm had projected shipments would touch 227.4 million units this year, a huge jump from about 143.7 million units last year. “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 per cent above 2012 levels,” IDC said in a statement.

The S-Pen menu

Galaxy Note 3, seen eating a tablet maker's lunch here

Shipment growth is forecast to slow to 22.2 per cent year over year in 2014 to a total of 270.5 million units, it added. “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,” IDC Tablet Research Director Tom Mainelli said.

Meanwhile, in mature markets like the US where tablets have been shipping in large volumes since 2010 and are already well established, IDC is less concerned about large phones cannibalising shipments and is more worried about market saturation, he added. IDC also revised the tablet shipment volumes downwards by over 20 million units for 2017 adding that growth will slow to single-digit rates. “By 2017, annual market growth will slow to single-digit percentages and shipments will peak at 386.3 million units, down from the previous forecast of 407 million units,” it said.

One key factor to watch going forward is the mix of small versus large tablets, IDC added. 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.

PTI

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