On the back of another quarter of lower-than-expected demand, research firm IDC has cut its full-year 2014 forecast for worldwide tablet shipments from 260.9 million to 233.1 million units.

The new forecast, which includes 2-in-1 models (laptop/tablet hybrids), translates into a 6.5 per cent year-on-year growth rate, which is well below the 12.1 per cent rate previously forecast.

It’s not all doom and gloom for tablet suppliers.

“When we look at the global picture, it would be easy to say that the tablet market is slowing down,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets at the analyst house.

“But, when we start digging into the regional dynamics, we realise that there is still a good appetite for this product category. While mature markets like North America and Western Europe will combine for flat unit growth in 2014, the remaining regional markets will generate 12 per cent unit growth over the same period.”

Price pressure on tablets with smaller screen sizes (less than 8 inches), plus evolving tablet usage in emerging markets, will fuel unit growth, according to IDC.

While the research firm expects average selling prices (ASPs) to stabilise at US$373 in mature markets in 2014 (due to the shift to larger screens and cellular-enabled tablets), ASPs in the rest of the world are projected to fall 10 per cent to US$302.

Evolving tablet usage, adds the research firm, can be seen in strong Q2 growth of tablet shipments featuring a built-in option of voice calling over cellular networks in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan). These type of devices accounted for 25 per cent of total tablet units shipped in the region during the three months ended June, and a 60 per cent growth compared with Q2 2013.

“Driven primarily by small devices, we expect the rest of the world to account for the majority of shipments in the years to come,” said Jitesh Ubrani, an IDC senior research analyst. “But in terms of dollars spent, medium- to large-sized devices in North America and Western Europe will still produce significant revenues.”