A fifth of all tablets sold will go to businesses and educational institutions by 2017, according to analyst firm IDC, which has also predicted that emerging markets would soon become a dominant force in tablet sales.
According to the analysts, 10 percent of tablets sold worldwide in 2012 went to the commercial sector, a figure which is set to double to 20 percent by 2017. IDC puts this down to educational projects and adoption in sectors such as retail.
Elsewhere, data provided by IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker shows that Western markets are gradually becoming saturated, with the firm tempering its estimations for overall tablet sales. It had previously predicted 229.3 million tablets would be sold this year, but has now revised that figure down to 227.4 million, which nonetheless shows 57.7 percent year-on-year growth.
Tom Mainelli, tablets research director at IDC said the revised figure was caused by a lack of major product announcements in the second quarter of 2013. "The second half of the year now becomes even more critical for a tablet market that has traditionally seen its highest shipment volume occur during the holiday season," he said, adding that tablet prices would continue to drop as smaller brands gained traction in the market, "despite typically offering lower-quality products and poorer customer experiences".
The expanding markets for large smartphones with screens of 5in or more – in addition to the expected proliferation of wearable tech such as the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Gear, Google Glass and the rumoured Apple iWatch – will impact tablet sales in the more mature markets of Western Europe, North America and Japan. IDC expects the mature market share to drop from 60.8 percent of all sales to 49 percent in 2017, with emerging markets grabbing the other half of sales.
Jitesh Ubrani, IDC research analyst, said the figures showed that the tablet market was experiencing the early stages of maturity. "Much of the long-term growth will be driven by countries like China where projected growth rates will be consistently higher than the worldwide average," he added.
The third quarter of 2013 has seen mixed fortunes for major tablet brands, with Google's second-generation Nexus 7 going on sale in the UK this week. Microsoft's Surface tablet, meanwhile, has suffered, with the company taking just $853m in revenue from the product line.
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