Tablet growth seen stalling in U.S., Europe as IDC cuts forecast

Ian King
Bloomberg News

Tablet computer shipments will stall in North America and Western Europe this year, causing IDC Corp. to lower its forecast for worldwide growth by almost half.

The market researcher is now predicting that the number of tablets shipped will rise 6.5 percent to 233.1 million in 2014, down from an earlier forecast of 12.1 percent. IDC expects no growth for North America and Western Europe after a 25 percent jump last year for the regions.

The new estimate highlights the pressure on companies such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. as they try to refresh product lines with new models that can persuade consumers in developed markets to trade in their devices.

Apple’s suppliers are preparing to manufacture the company’s largest-ever iPad, with production scheduled to commence by the first quarter of next year, Bloomberg News reported this week, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The Cupertino, California-based company has been working with suppliers for at least a year to develop a new range and the new iPad will have a screen measuring 12.9 inches (37.8 centimeters) diagonally, the people said.

Tablet growth will come from devices with screens that are smaller than 8 inches in developing markets, where prices are set to fall on average by 10 percent, IDC said. Shipments outside of North America and Western Europe will rise 12 percent in 2014 after soaring 88 percent in 2013, according to the researcher.

“There is still a good appetite for this product category,” Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets at IDC, said in a statement.