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Slower tablet market hints at fatigue, more traditional upgrade cycle

The larger question here is whether developed markets will see tablet fatigue. Once everyone has a tablet---and you can argue they do---the upgrade cycle shifts.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

The global tablet market can actually slow down and may be stumbling into a more traditional tech upgrade cycle that largely depends on the third and fourth quarters---much like other computing products.

According to IDC data, global tablet shipments fell 9.7 percent sequentially from the first quarter to the second quarter. This decline is hardly an Armageddon scenario---shipments were up 59.6 percent from a year ago---but IDC's data does hint that the tablet market is maturing a bit. And maturation typically runs into gravity at some point.

IDC noted that the lack of Apple iPad product launches---in 2012 a new iPad launched in March---the tablet market sputtered a bit. Apple shipped 14.6 million units in the second quarter, down from 19.5 million in the first. Samsung shipped 8.1 million units in the second quarter, down from 8.6 million in the first.

The larger question here is whether developed markets will see tablet fatigue. Once everyone has a tablet---and you can argue they do---the upgrade cycle shifts. If the iPad mini lacks a retina display or something materially new will people really upgrade? Do you really need yet another Android tablet?

In other words, there is a dose of tablet fatigue that's possible. The smartphone market is already seeing it.

Earlier: Tablet shipments show signs of slowing in Q2

Once fatigue sets in, tech products increasingly rely on the second half of the year with the back to school and holiday seasons. IDC said that tablets are likely to pick up in the second half as new products are launched. The following chart highlights the obvious---cheap Android tablets are carpet bombing the market. It's also worth noting that Windows is making some progress in tablets.

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