Tablets took about a decade to take off since Microsoft introduced the “Tablet PC” to the world in 2000, which didn’t take off, and then when Apple unveiled the iPad in 2010 then the tablet market grew exponentially until it hit a peak. Unfortunately, the sales are now in decline for 3 quarters in a row, and this trend is likely to continue, as consumers are shifting to a new category – hybrid devices. When tablets were first introduced, it was believed they were machines for consuming content. Indeed, they are great for browsing the web, watching videos, reading e-mail and fiddling around on Facebook. However, when you see an e-mail you usually want (or need) to respond to, there you have the problem: tablets are horrible for creating content, especially when you need to write long chunks of text. Since they are easy to use and carry around, hybrid devices are becoming increasingly more popular.
First attempts to release a tablet-laptop mix weren’t that successful since these devices were too big, heavy and the specs didn’t help either. However, with the introduction of the Surface tablets with a detachable keyboard and a stylus pen, Microsoft got the head start on tablets that were great for creating content without leaving behind mobility, specs, and usability. This year Apple introduced the iPad Pro, a very similar device of that of Microsoft, signaling that the trend is here to stay. With hardware advancements and a consumer shift for productivity-oriented computing, a new report from International Data Corporation (IDC) suggests tablet shipments will continue to decline and Android will be the most hurt platform, with Windows gaining from it.
There are several factors to suggest this analysis. One of the main reasons is the fact that 7 to 9-inch tablets are being cannibalized by phablets, making way for bigger devices with screens ranging from 9 to 13 inches, which are ideal for creating content. In 2014, 7 to 9-inch devices were 64.1% of the market and this year their share fell to 57.7%. For 2019, IDC predicts they will shrink even further to 43% while medium sized slates (9 to 13-inch) will represent more than 50% of that market. While Android is still the dominant OS on both tablets and smartphones, Microsoft is expected to grab a nice slice of that pie, reaching almost 20% in 4 years, in the expense of Android. Of course, tablet manufacturers could react to that and Samsung, as the largest Android maker, could very well release a proper response for both the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4 add up for the competition.