Yesterday the International Data Corporation (IDC) presented a new forecast in regards to worldwide tablet shipments over the next few years, accounting for both slate and convertible form factors. According to the new data, IDC expects the global tablet market to regain traction in 2018, in spite of the fact that demand for tablets in emerging markets will continue to decline over the next couple of years. Either way, IDC predicts that the tablet market will rebound over the next few years, largely due to the fact that convertible devices are gaining popularity amongst PC users.
IDC expects worldwide tablet shipments to decline by 12% in 2016, with a rough total of 182.3 million tablet shipments throughout the year. Although IDC expects the market to rebound in the year 2018 thanks to convertible tablets gaining traction, growth "will remain in the low single digits". According to Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, thin and light convertibles flaunting touchscreen are contributing to growth in the detachable tablet market, and they are "also bleeding over into the PC market as slim convertible-type notebooks gain popularity." According to the analyst, this change is most welcomed by vendors "as average selling prices for notebooks and tablets are expected to increase in the near term." (see second graph below)
Geographically speaking, tablet shipments will continue to decline in emerging markets – Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, Africa (MEA), and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) – until the year 2018, after which growth "will flatten out in the following two years." These markets will apparently see slow growth in the detachable segment, however, these positive figures will be offset by a decline in slate tablet sales, ensuring no growth in emerging markets until 2020. On the other hand, mature markets including the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, and Japan will experience "positive single-digit growth until 2020". In these regions, an increased demand in detachable tablets will offset the decline in slate tablet shipments, ensuring positive growth in the years to come. However, according to IDC research director Jean Philippe Bouchard, while "the transition to detachables is inevitable", niche products such as Amazon's Kindle Fire have proven that the market can continue to accommodate such form factors, assuming that they are "fueled by ultra low-end prices and a growing ecosystem […] involving the Internet of Things." The research director expects slate tablets "to account for more than twice the volume of the detachable segment", forecasting 124 million unit shipments in 2020. Feel free to check the graphs below for a look at IDC's predicted year-over-year growth and decline for the 2015-2020 timeframe.