ipadThe latest numbers from market research company IDC reveal that worldwide tablet growth is expected to have significantly declined in 2014, with just 7.2% year-over-year growth compared to 52.5% in 2013. A contributing factor will likely be the iPad’s first year of decline as the tablet’s market share continues to fall because of a growing number of cheaper alternatives.

IDC finds that the slowdown in sales of both the iPad and the broader tablet market is largely unsurprising, given that tablets have a longer upgrade cycle that is closer to that of computers than smartphones. It was originally expected that tablets would be replaced every 2-3 years, but many tablet users are holding onto their devices for longer than that.

“What has played out instead is that many tablet owners are holding onto their devices for more than 3 years and in some instances more than 4 years,” said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. “We believe the two major drivers for longer than expected tablet lifecycles are legacy software support for older products, especially within iOS, and the increased use of smartphones for a variety of computing tasks.”

Worldwide Tablet Year-over-Year Growth 2014

IDC claims that the landscape of the tablet market could change based on industry reaction to Windows 10, what Google does in this space with its Android and Chrome OS efforts, and Apple’s product line extension with the oft-rumored iPad Pro. “The next six months should be really interesting,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director for Tablets.

Apple introduced the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 at its October media event earlier this year, although each tablet is more of an evolutionary versus revolutionary update compared to the tablets before them. The flagship feature of each tablet is the addition of Touch ID, while the iPad Air 2 in particular gained a thinner build and improved display, faster Apple A8X chip, upgraded iSight and FaceTime HD cameras and faster wireless over both Wi-Fi and LTE.

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