In short: Android tablets are becoming more irrelevant by the month, new industry data suggests. DigiTimes Research reports that global shipments of tablets — running Android and any other operating system — will decline both this year and the next, amounting to 141 million units in 2019. Over the following four-year period, tablets should experience annual performance drop-offs of up to three percentage points and the declining consumer interest in this electronics category will likely additionally decrease the number of high-end tablets released on a yearly basis.
While Android tablets as a whole are on a decline, Apple's iPads remain stable in terms of demand and no major changes on the iOS side of things are projected in the medium term. The authors of the study attribute the trend to the increasing sizes of smartphones which makes it even harder for tablet vendors to differentiate their products for contemporary handsets. Coupled with the fact that Google all but abandoned tablet-specific software features with the last several iterations of Android and the market is likely to continue declining to the point of irrelevancy, though no massive drop-offs in sales are expected over the next five years.
Background: The fact that tablets are slowly sliding into obscurity is not surprising given how that's what industry trackers have been saying for years. The market has been declining for sixteen consecutive quarters now and while Apple is still managing to maintain its business in the field, most other manufacturers aren't nearly as successful. Huawei is one of the rare few tablet vendors that's still growing, though questions remain about how sustainable that improvement is, especially in light of the company's aggressive marketing practices and thin profit margins it's recording on most tablet sales.
Impact: As smartphones continue to get bigger and with foldable handsets now being on the horizon as well, traditional tablets are likely to continue becoming more irrelevant by the month, with an increasing number of consumers being unable to justify purchasing such devices any longer.