Following a second consecutive quarter of softer than expected demand, International Data Corporation (IDC) has lowered its worldwide tablet plus 2-in-1 forecast for 2014 to 233.1 million units.
The new Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker forecast represents a 6.5% year-over-year growth rate, which is well below the 12.1% growth rate previously forecast.
"When we look at the global picture, it would be easy to say that the tablet market is slowing down," says Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director for Tablets, IDC.
"But, when we start digging into the regional dynamics, we realise that there is still a good appetite for this product category.
"While mature markets like North America and Western Europe will combine for flat unit growth in 2014, the remaining regional markets will generate 12% unit growth over the same period."
IDC anticipates that price pressure on tablets with smaller screen sizes (less than 8 inches) and evolving tablet usage in emerging markets will fuel that unit growth.
While average selling prices (ASPs) are expected to stabilise at US$373 in mature markets in 2014 due to the shift to larger screens and cellular-enabled tablets, ASPs in the rest of the world will decrease to US$302, representing an annual decline of 10%.
As an illustration of evolving tablet usage, shipments of tablets featuring a built-in option of voice calling over cellular networks in the Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan)(APeJ) region reached 25% this quarter, representing annual growth of 60%.
This trend suggests that end users in this region are looking for a single device that can meet their needs in terms of voice communication and media consumption, and for some that single device is a tablet and not a smartphone.
"Driven primarily by small devices, we expect the rest of the world to account for the majority of shipments in the years to come," adds Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst for the Worldwide Tablet Tracker.
"But in terms of dollars spent, medium- to large-sized devices in North America and Western Europe will still produce significant revenues."