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The latest figures from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker indicate that, despite a strong fourth quarter of 2013, with total tablet shipments that represent “62.4 percent growth over the previous quarter and 28.2 percent growth over the same period a year ago,” the tablet market may be slowing its breakneck growth. “While the market’s growth rates remain impressive, they’re down dramatically compared to the year-over-year rates of the same quarter one year ago (87.1 percent) and indicate a significant slowing of the overall market,” observes IDC.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that markets such as the U.S. are reaching high levels of consumer saturation and while emerging markets continue to show strong growth, this has not been enough to sustain the dramatic worldwide growth rates of years past,” said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets, at IDC. “We expect commercial purchases of tablets to continue to accelerate in mature markets,” he adds, but still warns of “a more challenging environment for tablets in 2014 and beyond.”

Apple still led the segment, with the fourth quarter of 2013 its “most successful on record;” however, “its year-over-year growth of 13.5 percent was well below the industry average.” Amazon also increased its market share notably quarter-on-quarter, to 7.6 percent of the overall market in the fourth quarter, but its year-on-year share is still down 1.7 percent on 4Q 2012′s almost 10 percent.

How significant the dropoff in tablet sales growth is likely to be remains to be seen. New price points could see whole new demand sources being unlocked, in emerging markets and mature alike. And a emerging markets-led ecosystem in which Apple is no longer the dominant player could look very different.

 
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