Tablet sales will flatline much sooner than expected, says IDC

iPad mini retina display. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The iPad mini’s lifespan could be a snuffed out thanks to the iPhablet . Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple has a proud tradition of cannibalizing its products before someone else does, but in the case of the iPad mini, Cupertino might start eating its rotting corpse as soon as the 5.5-inch iPhablet is announced.

The latest projections from IDC claim that tablet sales are starting to level off even faster than expected with only 245.5 million units forecasted to sell in 2014 – a palty 12.1% year-over-year growth rate after tech companies just feasted on 51.8% YOY in 2013.

During Apple’s last earnings call Tim Cook boasted that iPad is the fastest selling product in Apple history, but IDC gives two major reasons why that could soon change:

1) Tablet owners aren’t upgrading to new devices as often as anticipated.
2) The rise of phablets are causing people to second guess the need for a tablet altogether.

Phablets are the fastest growing segment in the smartphone sales market, commandeering 10.5% of the market by the first quarter of this year, after holding less than half that the year prior. They now account for 30.1 million units shipped.

Microsoft is expected to benefit from the popularity of larger thanks to the release of its Surface Pro 3.  IDC projects the company’s tablet marketshare will double by 2018.

That’s not the best news for Apple, which has seen iPad sales skyrocket over the last three years before declining for the first time year-over-year last quarter. Luckily, the company is rumored to have a 5.5-inch iPhone in its back pocket that could launch as soon as September.

  • Michael Mudditt

    So IDC has got its magic 8 ball out again. These guys are like weather forecasters except they don’t get paid to say theres going to be a snow storm

  • Ulf Hednar

    Translation: IDC: “So we finally got caught cooking the books on all the Android tablets we said were happening but really weren’t . . . and . . . um . . . our solution is to slowly cook the books backwards to something closer to the truth. So, during that time, it’s going to look like things are flattening out. Sound good? —Squirrel!!!!”

    The IDC is now officially a joke.

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    They claim that tablets aren’t being upgraded as often as anticipated. As who anticipated? I’m sure Apple built those tablets to be useful for a few years before being needed to be upgraded. They’re not smartphones on a contract. It almost sounds as though the IDC thinks Apple should have built tablets with a shortened lifespan just to keep sales up. The IDC is so stupid. Apple sold a lot of tablets at first because the demand was there to fill a void. Apple’s high tablet growth was never going to last indefinitely. If iPads remain useful to consumers and sales flatten, so what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a company building products that last longer than Wall Street expects.

    As a consumer I see it has a good thing and Apple should see it as a good thing. Only these greedy fools see it as a bad thing. If sales fluctuate from year to year and mostly stay flat, that’s a good thing. It means Apple has a mature repeat business which is fine. I believe Apple can still increase tablet sales if they sell more tablets to schools which should all be eventually transitioning from paper textbooks to electronic textbooks. The U.S. is filled with schools to sell iPads to.

  • RaptorOO7

    If Apple does deliver a 5.5″ or larger iPhone then it will likely hurt the iPad mini sales, a lot. Right now I have a GN3 and an iPad mini Retina. I returned my iphone due to poor battery life and honestly having two devices so close in size is a waste. I am very optimistic the rumored 4.7″ iphone will come and fit the bill nicely as a balance between the iPhone and iPad mini Retina.

  • Nick

    Phablets…gah! The only worse than the name is the product.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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