Tablet Market Declines in 2015 while Demand for Detachables Grows

Even as global tablet shipments continue declining this year, the market for one tablet device format is expected to almost double next year. According to a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC), 211 million tablets were expected to ship in 2015, down eight percent from 2014.

However, IDC predicted that detachable tablets will exceed 75 percent growth in 2016. The IT research firm defines the current tablet market as encompassing both slate tablets and 2-in-1 devices, laptops that either fold back into a tablet form or allow the tablet to be disconnected from the physical keyboard.

"We're witnessing a real market transition as end users shift their demand towards detachables and more broadly towards a productivity-based value proposition," said Research Director Jean Philippe Bouchard in a press release. "The proliferation of detachable offerings from hardware vendors continues to help drive this switch."

The profile of the tablet market is dominated by three competing operating systems: Google Android, which held onto 67 percent of the market, the same as it held in 2014; Apple iOS, which is down three percentage points to 24.5 percent in 2015 from 27.5 percent in 2014; and Microsoft Windows, which is up 3 percentage points to 8.5 percent in 2015 from 5 percent in 2014.

Over the next four years Windows is expected to more than double at the expense of both iOS and Android. Senior Research Analyst Jitesh Ubrani said the growth of Windows-based devices is being driven by pickup from "a combination of traditional PC [original equipment manufacturers] as well as more household smartphone vendors."

IDC also predicted that bigger will be better when it comes to screen size. Whereas screens nine inches and smaller dominated tablet sales in 2014 with 64 percent of the market, by 2019 only 43 percent of the market will follow that format. Preference for medium screens — those between nine and 13 inches — will grow from 36 percent to 55 percent over the same period. Demand for large screens, which run between 13 and 16 inches, will grow by 20 times — from a mere tenth of a percent of the market in 2014 to two percent by 2019.

In fact, the iPad device line was given a new lease with the recent introduction of Apple's iPad Pro, which sports the biggest screen — nearly 13 inches — ever delivered on an iPad. "Though early reviews for the iPad Pro have been mixed, we believe the Pro to be the only reason for Apple to gain tablet market share in the coming years as they target select enterprise and prosumer audiences," noted Ubrani.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.