Manufacturers will ship more than 220 million tablet computers by the end of 2013, up 53% over 2012 figures. The research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) predicts that trend will slow over the next four years as more people start buying phablets.
A phablet is a mobile device with a screen larger than most smartphones, but not as large as the average tablet computer. Phablets normally have a screen that’s between 5 in. and 7 in., such as the Samsung Galaxy Note, an Android smartphone with a 5.7-in. screen.
IDC based its prediction on the fact that there’s not enough difference between a 6-in. smartphone screen and a 7-in. tablet to convince consumers to pay more for the tablet, according to a report in Information Week.
“In some markets, consumers are already making the choice to buy a large smartphone rather than buying a small tablet, and as a result, we’ve lowered our long-term forecast,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, tablets, at IDC. “Meanwhile, in mature markets like the U.S., where tablets have been shipping in large volumes since 2010 and are already well established, we’re less concerned about big phones cannibalizing shipments and more worried about market saturation.”
As it stands, Android and iOS will continue to be the top tablet operating systems for years to come, but IDC predicts both will lose ground over the next four years. The IDC forecast calls for the market share for the Android system from Google to dip from nearly 61% in 2013 to 59% in 2017, while Apple iOS will slip from 35% to around 30%.