The global market for smart connected devices (PCs, tablets and smartphones) will grow at a 27.8% rate year over year in 2013, down slightly from 30.3% in 2012, according to the latest forecast from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker research service. Tablet and smartphone shipments will drive growth. By contrast, IDC has lowered its 2013 forecast for PC shipments by 10%.

As a result, worldwide tablet shipments will exceed those for PCs (desktops plus portables) in 4Q, according to IDC. The full-year, 2013 total for global PC shipments will continue to be greater than that for tablets, a situation that will be reversed by the end of 2015, as tablet shipments grow to surpass 1.4 billion units and account for 69% of all smart connected device shipments, according to an IDC press release.

On the revenue side, the global smart connected device market will continue to grow at a double-digit, 10.6% annual rate in 2013, but taper off to just 3.1% in 2017, IDC analysts forecast, reflecting “the increasing impact of low-cost smartphones and the white box tablet market.”

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IDC forecasts the total value of the worldwide smart connected device market to be $622.4 billion in 2013, $423.1 billion of which “will come from the sub-$350 smartphone and sub-$350 tablet segments collectively.

“At a time when the smartphone and tablet markets are showing early signs of saturation, the emergence of lower-priced devices will be a game-changer,” IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker research analyst Megha Saini elaborated.

“Introducing new handsets and tablet devices at cheaper price points along with special initiatives like trade-in programs from Apple and BestBuy will accelerate the upgrade cycle and expand the total addressable market overnight.”

Lower-cost devices will fuel greater uptake among first-time buyers in commercial sectors such as education while IDC anticipates “a new round of cannibalization” will set in. More specifically, IDC analysts foresee large-screen (5+ inch) smartphones beginning to have an impact the smaller (7-8 inch) tablet market.

“The device world has seen several iterations of cannibalization impacting different categories, with the last few years focused on tablets cannibalizing PC sales,” commented IDC Program VP, Clients and Displays Bob O’Donnell. “Over the next 12-18 months, however, we believe the larger smartphones, commonly called ‘phablets’, will start to eat into the smaller-size tablet market, contributing to a slower growth rate for tablets.”

IDC forecasts the surge in smart connected devices continuing. More than 2 billion units with a market value of $735.1 billion will ship by the end of 2015, according to the Framingham, Massachusetts-based market research firm.

Smartphones accounted for 59.5%, PC shipments 28.7% and tablets 11.8% of 2012’s worldwide smart device total, IDC said. Looking out to 2017, IDC forecasts that smartphone and tablet shipments will grow to represent 70.5% and 16.5%, respectively. PC shipments, on the other hand, will decline to 13%, driving average selling prices (ASPs) in the smart connected device market down from $462 in 2012 to $323 in 2017.

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