Tablet shipments will overtake those of PCs in this year's final quarter, according to IDC, which claims the surging tablet market will drive 27.8 per cent annual growth in the smart connected device market for 2013.
Although shipments of tablets will be higher than that of PCs (desktops and portable PCs) in Q4, the number of tablets shifted will still be beaten by that of PCs for the whole year – a trend not expected to be reversed until 2015 when tablets shipments will edge ahead of that of PCs for the whole year for the first time.
According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker, shipments across the global PC, tablet and smartphone market will jump by 27.8 per cent year on year, slightly less than 2012's annual growth of 30.3 per cent. Market expansion is set to be driven by the boom in tablet sales, especially more affordable models.
By the end of this year the global smart connected device market will be worth $622.4bn (£393.8bn) annually, more than two thirds ($423.1bn) of which will come from smartphones and tablets costing less than $350 each.
IDC research analyst Megha Saini said: "At a time when the smartphone and tablet markets are showing early signs of saturation, the emergence of lower-priced devices will be a game changer.
"Introducing new handsets and tablet devices at cheaper price points along with special initiatives such as trade-in programmes from Apple... will accelerate the upgrade cycle and expand the total addressable market overnight."
IDC expects the cheaper devices to pique the interest of first-time buyers in the education space, but warned that the tablet market could face competition from large-screen mobile phones, or "phablets".
"The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalisation impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalising PC sales," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC's programme vice president for clients and displays.
"Over the next 12 to 18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called 'phablets', will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets."
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