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Tablet market drying up? Apple’s iPad shipments decline

The tablet market could be slowing down after years of growth, according to industry estimates, with Apple’s iPad set to be hardest hit.

Research firm IDC projects that total tablet shipments globally are set to increase by only 7.2 per cent this year, compared with 52.5 per cent growth in 2013.

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The downturn is said to reflect a growing reliance on PCs and smartphones, with most consumers and businesses still preferring to run the full-version of software packages on PCs.

Tablet owners are also keeping a hold of their devices for longer than expected, with many consumers keeping their tablet for three years or more. With the majority of new apps compatible with older hardware, there is often little reason to upgrade.

The IDC figures also take into account hybrid tablet devices that can function as laptops by adding an external keyboard. Shipments of these devices are only expected to grow by four per cent.

Shipments of Apple’s iPad are actually set to fall this year, with predictions suggesting a 12.7 per cent decrease in the number of units when compared with 2013. Apple CEO Tim Cook is looking to reverse this trend, with industry sources indicating that an enterprise partnership with IBM could be in the works to provide businesses with cloud-optimised mobile devices.

Compounding Apple’s woes, shipments of Windows tablets are expected to grow by 67.3 per cent next year, totalling 10.9 million units, with Android shipments also increasing, this time by 16 per cent.

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IDC predicts that the market slowdown will continue until 2018, but did admit that there were a number of industry unknowns that could yet have an unforeseen impact on tablet sales.