New York: Apple Inc.'s iPads and other tablet computers are flying off the shelves this holiday season. Starting next year, growth is expected to slow. Tablet shipments will climb 54 percent this year to 221.3 million, before decelerating to 22 percent growth in 2014 and less than 10 percent in 2017, researcher IDC predicted Wednesday. The popularity of smartphones with bigger screens and the market saturation of tablets in the U.S. and other countries will spur the slowdown, said IDC, which previously estimated 2013 shipments of 227.4 million. This year, tablets are among the most popular holiday gift items after Apple, Samsung Electronics and Amazon.com introduced new devices in time for the shopping rush. Apple's dominance is being challenged by Samsung, Amazon and other rivals that are offering lower-cost tablets using Google Inc.'s Android operating system. Android will power 61 percent of the tablets shipped in 2013, up from 52 percent last year, while Apple's market share will fall to 35 percent from 46 percent, IDC said. By 2017, IDC predicts, Microsoft will be a bigger player with 10 percent of the tablet market, compared to 31 percent for Apple and 59 percent for Android.
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