CCS Insight said a slowdown in the tablet market in 2014 has been more dramatic than expected, with latest forecasts saying that growth is now expected to drop to just 14 per cent worldwide compared to increases of 71 per cent in 2013 and 79 per cent in 2012.
The research company also predicted that most Western European markets will shrink in 2014, with total tablet shipments expected to fall 6 per cent compared to 7 per cent growth in North America. Shipments in Western Europe contracted by 9 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013.
However, the research and analyst company attributes this slowdown to longer-than-expected replacement rates, not to a lack of consumer interest in tablets.
"We expect as many new adopters in 2014 as in 2013, but existing users are keeping their tablets for three years or longer," CCS Insight commented. "We forecast sales will accelerate again from 2015 as demand for replacements builds. Growing adoption in emerging markets will further boost the market from 2016 onward."
The tablet market is expected to reach 562 million units worldwide in 2018, with a value of $99 billion (€72.6 billion).
Overall, CCS Insight estimates that 389 million tablets were in use at the end of 2013. Of these, almost 300 million were in developed Western and Asian markets. While penetration levels in North America reached around 44 per cent of the population, some Western European markets are starting to catch up with 39 per cent penetration in the UK and across the Nordics. France and Germany saw penetration levels of 23 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
The research company also found that the erosion of the average selling price (ASP) is slowing: "We estimate the global ASP fell 27 per cent in 2013 thanks to the rising share of cheaper Android tablets and seven-inch tablets. The ASP in developed markets has become relatively stable, but we expect it to drop further when Windows tablets become available at lower prices.
In 2018, CCS Insight projects a global ASP of $176 ($215 in developed markets and $139 in emerging markets).
Meanwhile in a separate analysis of the smartphone market, ABI Research said it expects 1.25 billion smartphones to ship in 2014 and forecasts smartphone shipments to pass the 2 billion mark in 2018. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the forecast period from 2014 to 2019 is 12 per cent.
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