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Tablet Shipments Decline As Consumers Ditch Cut-Rate Slates

After years of astronomical growth, the tablet market is peering over the edge of a cliff, as consumers find fewer reasons to splurge on low-cost or new slates. According to the research firm IDC, the tablet and 2-in-1 market is expected to see its growth rate drop from a ridiculous 51.6 percent in 2013 to a more modest 19.4 percent in 2013. But that doesn't mean the tablet is going the way of the Zune just yet.

IDC's report indicates the fact that consumers, in mature markets, are ditching those cheap, underpowered slates that helped fuel the market's explosive growth in favor of more powerful, expensive devices. As a result, declines in the average selling price, or ASP, for tablets have begun to bottom out. In 2012, consumers saw ASPs decline as much as 18.3 percent for a slate. Last year prices fell just 14.6 percent, while 2014 prices are expected to fall an even smaller 3.6 percent. 

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Adding to the decline is the fact that users increasingly find themselves perfectly content with the tablets they already own. Those people, IDC's Tom Mainelli explained, tend to avoid upgrading to the latest and greatest slate as soon as it comes out. "In mature markets, where many buyers have purchased higher-end products from market leaders, consumers are deciding that their current tablets are good enough," he added.

With consumer tablet shipments flagging, IDC says commercial slates will begin to take over more of the market. According to the research firm, commercial tablets will continue to infiltrate businesses of all sizes. Such a move, IDC claims, will likely benefit none other than Microsoft, as its Windows 8 OS powers many of the 2-in-1 devices used by businesses.

"Though Android and iOS will remain dominant, we expect Windows-based devices to capture more than a quarter of the market as its benefits become apparent thanks to growing adoption of 2-in-1s," said IDC researcher Jitesh Ubrani. If IDC's predictions hold true, Microsoft may soon find itself laughing all the way to the bank at those who cast doubt on its Windows 8 strategy.