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Worldwide tablet shipments forecast to slow down in 2014

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Worldwide tablet computer shipments are expected to slow down this year, with annual growth forecast at below 20 percent, a local analyst said Monday.

Jim Hsiao, an analyst at Taipei-based Digitimes Research, said the slowdown will result largely from rock bottom prices of unbranded tablets and a saturated market for Apple Inc.'s iPad.

He forecast that global tablet shipments will grow by an annual 12 percent in 2014 to 277 million units, compared with a 22.6 percent increase last year.

“And we're very likely to trim the 2014 estimate later this year,” Hsiao told CNA, predicting that second-half tablet shipments will be weaker than in recent years.

While the global tablet market is still growing, the rate has been sliding, he said, citing 255.8 percent growth in 2011, 118 percent in 2012 and 22.6 percent in 2013.

This is an indication that the global tablet computer market is becoming saturated, showing a similar pattern as the markets for notebook computers and digital cameras, Hsiao said.

In addition, 4G smartphones and wearable devices are likely to squeeze tablet sales over the second half of the year, according to Hsiao.

WitsView, another local market research firm, held a similar view, predicting that global tablet shipments are expected to grow less than 5 percent to 205.5 million units this year.

“The tablet market is sandwiched between internal and external threats,” Eric Chiou, a research manager at WitsView was quoted as saying in a research note.

Tablets have lost their attraction for consumers, while competition from phablets and low-priced notebooks are further dividing tablet market share, Chiou noted.

iPad might experience its first shipment decline in 2014 since entering the market in 2010, as Apple is unlikely to hold any major promotional or sales events, the researcher said.

Apple's iPad shipments are expected to drop from 74.3 million in 2013 to 68.4 million in 2014, despite new model launches in the second half of the year, he forecast.

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