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Tablet Demand Slows as Prices Level Off

Growth in tablet adoption is continuing, but at a much more leisurely pace than has been seen in recent years.

In 2013, tablet adoption worldwide grew an enormous 51.6 percent worldwide. But this year, that's expected to drop to 19.4 percent, according to a newly revised forecast released by market research firm IDC. More rapid growth is being hampered by a slowdown in consumer spending and greater saturation of tablets in mature markets, such as the United States.

"After years of strong growth, we expect the white-box tablet market to slow in 2014 as consumers move to higher-end devices that work better and last longer," said IDC's Tom Mainelli, program vice president, devices & displays, in a prepared statement. "In mature markets, where many buyers have purchased higher-end products from market leaders, consumers are deciding that their current tablets are good enough for the way they use them. Few are feeling compelled to upgrade the same way they did in years past, and that's having an impact on growth rates."

Consumer will remain the majority of tablet purchasers over the next four years (the period of the forecast), though commercial purchases will slowly gain. In 2013, consumers made up 89 percent of tablet purchasers; by 2018, they will make up 82 percent, IDC reported in its Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

As part of that trend, IDC reported, Windows-based tablets will begin to gain traction, eventually making up a significant chun of the market.

"The choice of operating system will be a key differentiating factor when it comes to success in the commercial segment," said Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst, Worldwide Tablet Tracker. "Though Android and iOS will remain dominant, we expect Windows-based devices to capture more than a quarter of the market as its benefits become apparent thanks to growing adoption of 2-in-1s."

The slowdown in tablet adoption coincides with a slowdown in tablet hardware price drops. According to IDC, the average selling price for a tablet dropped rapidly — 18.3 percent in 2012 and another 14.6 percent in 2013 — but that is beginning to level out. This year, IDC forecast, the average selling price will decline by just 3.6 percent.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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