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Report: Tablets Will Outsell PCs by 2015

Tablet shipments will outpace PC shipments for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to a new forecast from market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). The company still predicts that more PCs than tablets will be shipped for the whole year, but expects annual tablet sales to top PC sales by 2015, according to an IDC news release.

Total growth for the smart connected device market, comprising PCs, tablets, and smartphones, will be 27.8 percent in 2013, according to the company, a slight decrease from last year's 30.3 percent growth. In addition to tablets, much of the growth will come from smartphones, which the company forecasts to top 1 billion units in sales in 2013. IDC's forecast also calls for the growth in smartphone sales to continue and reach 1.4 billion units and 69 percent of all smart connected devices sold by 2015.

IDC also predicts 2013's revenue to increase 10.6 percent over 2012, but warns that growth will drop to just over three percent by 2017. "The tapering revenue forecast reflects the increasing impact of low-cost smartphones and the white box tablet market," according to a company news release. "Worldwide smart connected device value is expected to be $622.4 billion in 2013, of which $423.1 billion will come from the sub-$350 smartphone and sub-$350 tablet segments collectively."

"At a time when the smartphone and tablet markets are showing early signs of saturation, the emergence of lower-priced devices will be a game-changer," said Megha Saini, research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, in a prepared statement. "Introducing new handsets and tablet devices at cheaper price points along with special initiatives like trade-in programs from Apple and BestBuy will accelerate the upgrade cycle and expand the total addressable market overnight."

Those lower cost devices will "drive interest worldwide and help to spark uptake among first-time buyers in commercial sectors like education," according to information released by the company.

The company also forecasts that larger smartphones with screens of five inches or larger will begin eating into the market share for tablets with screens of seven to eight inches. "The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalization impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalizing PC sales," said Bob O'Donnell, program vice president, clients and displays, in a prepared statement. "Over the next 12-18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called 'phablets', will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets."

Overall shipments in the market will top 2 billion by 2015 if IDC's forecast holds true, with revenue of $735.1 billion. In 2012, PC shipments accounted for nearly 29 percent of the market, with tablets and smartphones accounting for approximately 12 and 60 percent, respectively. By 2017, according to IDC, PC shipments will represent only 13 percent of the market, while tablets will rise to capture 16.5 percent and smartphones will strengthen their lead with a 70.5 percent share.

"The shift in demand from the more expensive PC category to more reasonably priced smartphones and tablets will drive the average selling price for the collective market from $462 in 2012 to $323 in 2017," according to an IDC news release.

More information is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at

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