Tablet Shipments to Beat PCs This Holiday Season


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Last holiday season was disappointing for PC sales. The market was let down by the failure of Microsoft's Windows 8 platform, and market watchers have partially blamed the rising tablet market for slow PC sales. Now, for the first time every, tablet shipments are forecasted to beat PC shipments in this year's fourth quarter.

Market research firm IDC today released research showing that it expects tablets to outsell PCs this holiday season. Moreover, the firm is predicting that total tablet shipments will top total PC shipments (desktop and notebook PCs combined) during the next year. IDC expects total PC market share to fall to around 13% by the year 2017, dropping below the tablet market's predicted share of 16.5% - a 78.9% market share growth over four years.

"The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalization impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalizing PC sales," said Bob O'Donnell, VP of Clients and Displays at IDC. "Over the next 12-18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called 'phablets', will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets."

IDC agrees with other analyst firms that see the tablet and smartphone markets beginning to saturate in western markets. The firm believes that the smart connected device market (comprised of smartphones and tablets) will continue to find growth in emerging markets such as China and Brazil. Already this year, IDC expects $423.2 billion of 2013's projected $622.4 billion in connected device revenue to come from devices that cost less than $350. The total market is expected to ship 2 billion units in 2015.

"At a time when the smartphone and tablet markets are showing early signs of saturation, the emergence of lower-priced devices will be a game-changer," said Megha Saini, a research analyst at IDC. "Introducing new handsets and tablet devices at cheaper price points along with special initiatives like trade-in programs from Apple and Best Buy will accelerate the upgrade cycle and expand the total addressable market overnight."