For all the energy and enthusiasm surrounding the smartphone industry, the complete lack of traction for the tablet market continues to remain a major cause for concern among companies who are heavily invested in the sector. Just last month, IDC came out with its report on global tablet sales for the final quarter of last year, revealing that the once-thriving product category had experienced its fifth consecutive quarter of decline. Now, IDC's latest report has more bad news for those who would have been hoping that 2016 would bring some much-needed relief to the sector. According to market research and analysis firm, International Data Corporation (IDC), tablet manufacturers are in for some further pain this year, as the market is expected to contract by as much as 5.9 percent in 2016.
Delving a bit deeper into the numbers made public by IDC this Tuesday, tablet shipments are expected to hit a low of 195 million units this year globally, as opposed to the 206.8 million units shipped worldwide last year. Amidst all the bad news, the one silver lining seems to be the growing popularity of devices with new form factors, which is expected to help the industry regain some of its lost ground from next year onwards. However, the recovery is expected to be slow, and IDC forecasts only a low single-digit yearly growth for the industry till the year 2020. The main force behind the growth will apparently be devices with newer form factors like 'detachable' tablets, which apparently held only 8 percent share of the overall tablet market last year, but is expected to account for as much as 30 percent of the market in 2020. The predicted growth of detachables, of course, will not be a surprise for those in the know, as such devices have already shown strong growth over the past few quarters even as the broader tablet market has been showing persistent signs of weakness.
According to the forecast from IDC, detachable tablets will likely see a Year-on-Year growth of around 73 percent this year itself, and Android as a platform is expected to garner an 18.2 percent share of that market. Meanwhile, Windows will continue to remain the most popular operating system in the detachable space, with 53.3 percent of all such devices to be sold this year expected to ship with Microsoft's offering. In 2020, the industry is expected to ship as many as 63.8 million detachable tablets worldwide, which would be a significant improvement over the 16.6 million that were shipped during all of last year. Of course, it remains to be seen if the projections do hold up in the long run, but manufacturers obviously will be hoping that the downturn in the industry will be a matter of the past sooner rather than later.