Tablet sales take a hit from lack of sizzle

IDC trims its forecast for tablet shipments in 2013 and says the pressure's on tablet makers to come through in the remaining months of the year.

tablets
Buy now, or wait till later? Sarah Tew/CNET

There's nothing like a hot new device to goose tablet sales. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case lately.

That lack of sizzle has given market researcher IDC no choice but to rein in its forecast for tablet sales for 2013 and the years that follow.

IDC said Thursday that it now expects this year's worldwide tablet shipments to reach 227.4 million units, down just a percent or so from its earlier forecast of 229.3 million.

With that modest paring down, the pressure will be on tablet makers to come through in the remaining months of the year, including the always sales-friendly fourth quarter.

"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," Tom Mainelli, IDC's research director for tablets, said in a statement.

IDC had already cited the lack of a new iPad so far this year as a drag on the market.

It's not just the absence of must-have tablets that's getting the market down, relatively speaking. Part of the blame goes to the arrival of bigger smartphones, the hefty "phablets" with screens bigger than 5 inches. IDC even points a finger at the buzz over upcoming wearable devices -- think iWatch and Galaxy Gear.

Those shifts could mean smaller price tags on the shiny new tablets yet to come.

"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."

But don't feel too bad for tablet makers, at least not yet. IDC said that even a slightly less hot tablet market is still a hot tablet market. Even with its revised forecast, shipments this year will still be up 57.7 percent above last year's level.

And by 2017, IDC said, worldwide shipments will rise to nearly 407 million units.

Tags:
Mobile
Tablets
About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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