As 2014 draws to a close, Apple will experience for the first time a downturn in iPad shipments for a full year, according to market research firm IDC.
Analysts predict that Apple will suffer a 12.7 percent year-over-year drop in iPad shipments in 2014. The Cupertino, Calif.-based device maker is forecast to ship 64.9 million tablets worldwide for 27.5 percent of the overall market. By 2018, shipments will reach 70.1 million units for a 24.5 share.
IDC program director Ryan Reith attributes the slump to lengthy device lifecycles. While the industry expected buyers to replace their tablets every two to three years, the marketplace responded differently.
"What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years," said Reith in a statement. "We believe the two major drivers for longer than expected tablet lifecycles are legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks."
Vendors of Android-based tablets will ship 159.5 million tablets in 2014, a year-over-year gain of 16 percent, for 67.7 percent of the market. That number will climb to 183.1 million Android tablets by 2018 for a 64 percent share.
Microsoft is predicted to make big gains, but not enough to pull it out of the number three spot.
Windows tablets, including 2-in-1 devices, will account for 4.6 percent of the market, or 10.9 million units, in 2014. Those figures represent a 67.3 percent gain over 2013. In somewhat better news for Microsoft, IDC anticipates that Windows-based tablets will make up 11.4 percent of the market by 2018, on shipments of 32.6 units.
Taken altogether, IDC is bracing for a "massive deceleration" in tablet adoption rates. In 2014 shipments will total 235.7 million units, a year-over-year increase of just 7.2 percent compared to 52.5 percent last year.
On the PC front, things are looking a little less dire than IDC first predicted.
Instead of falling by 3.7 percent in 2014, PC shipments are expected to drop by 2.7 percent this year, according to IDC's revised forecast. Vendors will ship 306.7 million PCs (desktops and laptops) in 2014 versus 315.1 million PCs in 2013. PCs shipments will drop to 291.9 million units by 2018, stated the analyst group.
Low-cost Windows PCs and Chromebooks may have helped slow the rate of decline, but there's no rebound in sight. "Going forward, as younger generations become more mobile and Web oriented, and emerging regions in particular prioritize converged devices (or economy in number of devices to purchase), the PC market will continue to face tough competition and be more focused on replacements, with limited potential for growth," said Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC's Worldwide PC Trackers practice, in a statement.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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