The white-hot tablet market may have peaked, according to the analysts at IDC. The research firm is lowering its projected growth rate for the global tablet market to 19.4% — still a rate that vendors of other connected devices would love to reach. In comparison, the tablet market grew 51.6% last year.
“In mature markets, where many buyers have purchased higher-end products from market leaders, consumers are deciding that their current tablets are good enough for the way they use them. Few are feeling compelled to upgrade the same way they did in years past, and that’s having an impact on growth rates,” said IDC’s Tom Mainelli, IDC’s program vice president for devices and displays.
IDC is projecting roughly the same growth rate for smartphones (19.3%) and for tablets (19.4%) in 2014. The big difference is price: While smartphone prices continue to plumment, average selling prices for tablets are starting to bottom out. The touchscreen display is typically the most expensive component in a mobile device, and tablet makers of course pay more for displays than smartphone makers.
For carriers, tablet adoption has been a key to the success of shared data plans. These plans allow a family to share a “bucket” of data among several devices. Tablets themselves usually produce less average revenue per user than do smartphones, but they do tend to boost an account’s overall data usage.
Tablets are also key to one of the key potential growth areas for carriers: mobile commerce. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, tablets accounted for $28.7 billion in mobile online commerce in 2013, up from the 2012 level of $5.1 billion. Half of all mobile online payments were made using a tablet last year.