Report Predicts Weaker Smartphone, Tablet Sales

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Sales of tablets will decline in 2016 and beyond, according to the latest predictions this week from market research firm IDC. It still forecasts a growing market for smartphone sales, but at a slower pace than the previous two years.

Worldwide tablet shipments are expected to decline for the second year in a row, dropping 9.6 percent through the end of 2016, compared to 2015 volumes. The slowdown is mostly the result of lengthening lifecycles, a familiar challenge for traditional PC manufacturers.

IDC claims that tablet owners replace their devices on average every four years. Detachable tablets, however, are expected to see a sales boost amidst the overall tablet slowdown. That's because consumers and corporations are increasingly seeing them as desktop replacements.

"One reason why the slate tablet market is experiencing a decline is because end-users don't have a good enough reason to replace them," IDC tablet researcher Jean Philippe Bouchard said in a statement, "and that's why productivity-centric devices like detachable tablets are considered replacement devices for high-end larger slate tablets."

Smartphone shipments, meanwhile, are expected to grow 3.1 percent in 2016. That's 2.6 percent lower than IDC's previous forecast for 2016, and significantly less than 2015's 10.5 percent growth rate. The growth will be driven primarily by consumers in the US, China and Europe, while the Japanese and Canadian markets are expected to contract.

IDC is partly basing its revised growth forecast on consumers' ability to spot deals on their own instead of relying on their mobile carriers to offer them upgrades.

"Consumers everywhere are getting savvy about how and where they buy their smartphones, and this is opening up new doors for OEMs and causing some traditional channels to lose some control of the hardware flow," IDC Vice President Ryan Reith said in a statement.

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