Are phablets pushing tablets aside?

Phablets, those smart phones with 5-inch or larger displays, are giving tablets a run for their money, according to analyst firm, IDC.

Cannibalization of the tablet market is less of a concern in Canada and the United States, but in some markets, like the Asia Pacific region, tablet purchases have declined while sales of phablets have shot up.

The trend has led IDC to lower its earlier long-term worldwide tablet forecast for 2013 from 227.4 million tablet shipments to 221.3 million. The analyst firm also revised it 2017 tablet forecast, bringing numbers down to 386.3 million from 407 million.

Tom Mainelli, IDC analyst said in South Korea, tablet sales declined while phablet sales shot up. While the country’s market is a unique case, he said, developments there” could very well be a precursor “ to what’s going on in other countries.

Jitesh Ubrani, another IDC analyst, said limited disposable income if a big reason why consumers buy phablets. Buying a large phone that allows you to browse the Internet is more economical than buying a small phone and a tablet, he said.

In Canada and the U.S. this is less of a concern because of the higher availability of expendable income.

Mainelli said analysts are more worried about market saturation since tablets have been raking in huge adoption numbers since 2010. He said the market is set to change from high growth to “mostly replacement market.”

Another reason for the lower popularity of tablets in emerging economies is that there these area tend to have less access to Wi-Fi at home.

IDC also predicts that other wearable devices such as smart watches will later have an impact on the tablet market.

The firm expects some 220 million tablets with screens under 8 inches to ship globally in 2017. Some 145 million tablets with screens of 8 inches to 11 inches and about 20 million tables with displays of more than 11 inches will ship during the same period.

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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