Tablets are still all the rage, but their selling power appears to be dwindling. According to IDC, the market, which includes tablets and 2-in-1 devices, is forecast to grow in 2014, but at a rate more than 30 per cent slower than last year.
As a result, IDC reduced its 2014 forecast by 3.6 per cent to 260.9 million units expected worldwide.
Average selling prices have been on the decline for the last two years: 18.3 per cent in 2012 and 14.6 per cent in 2013. But IDC said price erosion has begun to bottom out, and predicts that prices will only drop about 3.6 per cent this year.
"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," IDC's Tom Mainelli, program vice president of devices and displays, said in a 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," Mainelli continues. "Few are feeling compelled to upgrade the same way they did in years past, and that's having an impact on growth rates."
As consumer shipments decline, commercial shipments will pick up the slack. Most commercial sales, to date, have been in areas like education, but IDC believes more businesses of all sizes will begin integrating tablet use into their work—a move that may eventually benefit Microsoft's Windows platform in the long run.
"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 with 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."
With that in mind, it appears Apple is losing its grip on the market. Early this week,Gartner reported that Google's Android operating system outsold iOS-based iPads for 2013, crowning a new king of slates. Though Apple did hold onto its crown as the top individual vendor of consumer tablets, selling 70.4 million iPads in 2013 for a 36 per cent share of the overall market.