IDC on Friday lowered its outlook for global tablet shipments in 2014, as growth flat-lines in mature markets.

The research firm said it expects shipments to reach 233.1 million this year, an increase of 6.5%, far lower than its previous forecast of 12.1%.

IDC attributed the lowered forecast to consecutive quarters of softer-than-expected demand in mature markets.

"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 IDC, in a research note.

However, he insisted that some regions still have a healthy appetite for tablets.

"While mature markets like North America and Western Europe will combine for flat growth in 2014, the remaining regional markets will generate 12% unit growth over the same period," he said.

IDC said it expects emerging market growth will be driven by downward pressure on the average selling price (ASP) of tablets with smaller screens, and changes in how people use them. Specifically, IDC said tablets that feature cellular voice calling accounted for 25% of shipments in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) in the second quarter, suggesting that consumers are choosing them over smartphones.

"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, senior research analyst for IDC's Worldwide Tablet Tracker.

In terms of tablet revenue though, North America and Europe will still make a significant contribution, as ASPs are stabilised by the migration to larger screen sizes and devices with embedded cellular connectivity.