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Tablets under attack from phablets, Google Glass and smartwatches

The growing popularity of phablets, as well as emerging categories like wearable tech has prompted IDC to shift its tablet estimates for the year.

The research firm has put 2013 tablets shipment estimates at 227.4 million. That's down from IDC's previous estimate of 229.3 million, but still almost 60 per cent higher than last year's total.

"A lower than anticipated second quarter, hampered by a lack of major product announcements, means the second half of the year now becomes even more critical for a tablet market that has traditionally seen its highest shipment volume occur during the holiday season," IDC tablet research director Tom Mainelli said in a statement.

Despite IDC's recalculation, the tablet market continues growing rapidly, and is expected to reach nearly 407 million global units by 2017.

"We expect average selling prices to continue to compress," Mainelli said, "as more mainstream vendors utilize low-cost components to better compete with the whitebox tablet vendors that continue to enjoy widespread traction in the market despite typically offering lower-quality products and poorer customer experiences."

IDC also adjusted its regional outlook, making way for emerging areas like Asia. Activity in mature markets like the UK and US will likely slow, based on market saturation, increased adoption of 5in+ smartphones, and the future impact of tech like smartwatches and Google Glass.

IDC now expects North America, Western Europe, and Japan to control 49 per cent of the tablet market by 2017, down from 60.8 per cent last year. That will leave emerging markets — Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa — with 51 per cent of the market, up from 39.2 per cent..

"Year-on-year growth is beginning to slow as the tablet market approaches early stages of maturity," Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst for IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, said in a statement. "Much of the long-term growth will be driven by countries like China where projected growth rates will be consistently higher than the worldwide average."

A secondary trend in the tablet market, IDC said, is the rise of tablets in the commercial segment — namely for educational projects and retail use; this segment is expected to slowly double from 10 per cent to 20 per cent in the next few years.