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Phablets and Wearables to Hurt Tablet Sales, Says IDC

It’s no secret that tablet sales have claimed a chunk of the PC industry, but a new forecast suggests that phablets and wearable devices will slow down slate sales. IDC has lowered its tablets sales predictions for 2013 and beyond due to the burgeoning wearable tech industry and prominence of larger smartphones.

The research firm only lowered its predictions by about two million, with its projected forecast dropping slightly from 229.3 million units to 227.4 million units in 2013. Despite this decrease, however, the IDC says that tablet shipments worldwide could reach 407 million units by 2017. Still, mature markets that have been a driving force behind tablet sales in the past such as North America and Western Europe will be particularly susceptible to the slowdown.

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“Market saturation, increased adoption  of smartphones with 5-inch and greater screens, and the eventual growth of the wearable category will impact tablet growth in all regions, but are likely to impact mature regions first,” the report says.

In fact, IDC predicts that mature markets like the U.S. will see a significant decrease in their stake in the global tablet market by 2017, despite growing sales worldwide. While North America, Western Europe and Japan currently claim the majority of the world’s tablet market share at  60.8 percent, the firm predicts that they will account for less than half (49 percent) by 2017.

Samsung recently launched its Galaxy Mega tablet for AT&T, which has a 6.3-inch screen. Most small tablets have 7-inch displays. The company is expected to unveil another phablet in the Galaxy Note 3 on Sept. 4 alongside its Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

Meanwhile, HTC is rumored to be working on a big-screen HTC One Max for the fall, and LG's upcoming G2 device has a 5.2-inch screen.

At the same time, emerging wearable tech products such as Google Glass and the Pebble smartwatch have spurred several competitors as well, proving that there is a clear interest in the category. With companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google and LG rumored to have wrist-worn gadgets in the pipeline, tablets may have a harder time standing out in the market.