[SHARK] Are Tablets Dead?

Category: Gadgets , Mobile

The IBM-Mobile World Congress wrapped up recently. And remarkably, virtually no new tablets were hawked at the world’s biggest trade show for mobile device makers. Apple was entirely absent. Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG had no new tablets to announce, and didn’t even mention tablets in their presentations. Have tablets jumped the shark, gone the way of the 8-track, or become obsolete? Read on to see what's happening here...

No More Happy Days for Tablets?

The phrase "jumped the shark" refers to the point in time when something that was once popular begins to decline in the opinion of the public. Its origins are in an episode of the Happy Days television show in which Fonzie dons water skis and jumps over a shark. The stunt was viewed as a failed attempt to regain relevancy.

The marketing department at Lenovo didn't show up at the Mobile World Congress in leather jackets and waterskis, but they did release some cheap ($99-$199) Android tablets. But that was it for big brand names. So does this mean that consumer interest in tablets is waning, or is the lack of innovation due to other factors?

Tablet sales plummeted during 2015. Apple's iPad lineup saw an 18% decline despite launching the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. Samsung tablets saw a comparable decline; between them, these two companies account for over 42% of the tablet market.

tablets jump the shark

Amazon felt the most pain in its tablet sales, which were down a whopping 70% for the year. For a while, Fire tablets were tops in the low end of the market, but a blizzard of cheap Android tablets from Acer, Asus, RCA and other vendors left Fire tablets buried.

What Happened? Tablets were a novelty when the iPad debuted in 2010. Now the novelty has worn off and the tablet has reached a plateau of innovation and usefulness. Many people are perfectly fine with their first-generation Kindle Fire tablets. The consumer market is simply saturated.

Mobile Device Rumors and Turf Wars

The business and professional markets are another, smaller matter. Apple predicts continued growth in iPad sales to enterprises, relying on a strategic partnership with IBM to provide the apps that will drive iPad use in big business. A rumored iPad Pro with a 12-inch screen - impractical for casual users - may find success in medical, industrial, and field service settings.

Some pundits blame the phablets - big-screen phones - for digging into the turf of tablets. But IDC’s analysts blame the longer replacement cycle of tablets for lagging sales. Small improvements in processor speed, display technologies, and other “quality of experience” factors can’t compel users to upgrade; they just hang on to older models.

Niche tablets optimized for gaming, movie watching, inventory control, and other specialties are likely to account for most new tablets in the next year. Power users are also very interested in tablet/laptop hybrids like Microsoft’s Surface family, which exceeded $1 billion in revenue for the first time during Q4 of 2015. More elegant 2-in-1 designs like the Lenovo Yoga Pro and the Asus Transformer Book Chi may surpass the Surface line’s success.

Parents who don’t want to hand their kids smartphones have an alternative in kid-friendly tablets like the Fuhu line of age-specific Android tablets, some of which have 20 to 24 inch screens! Fuhu focuses on strong education apps and parental controls.

There are plenty of very capable Android tablets priced at less than $200. And it seems they're not going to get much cheaper or better in the next year or two. So if you’ve been waiting for the right time to buy a tablet, it looks like now.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "[SHARK] Are Tablets Dead?"

(See all 27 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Matt
08 Mar 2016

I would like to see my corporation offer tablets, and maybe they will in the future if the value proposition is there. But since they already issue laptops, it could be a hard sell.

Anyway, for home users, I can understand the flat sales. Think about the $$ an average home has sunk into hardware for cellphones, desktop/laptop computers, tablets; and the running costs for monthly ISP, monthly cellular plan. Now think about that vs the household incomes growth. Families will make priorities on the yearly budget.


Posted by:

Richard Dengrove
08 Mar 2016

In short, tablets are not going to disappear from the market. It's just a matter of the business and innovation cycle. Next year, the end of some other e-toy will be announced.


Posted by:

st channing
08 Mar 2016

I finally took the plunge to buy my first tablet for an irresistible bargain during last year's Black Friday sales. The quad-core CPU makes for surprisingly faster operation than I initially thought. It has great utility in light mobile uses for shopping, banking and reading while on errands, commuting and waiting for appointments, etc. Another great niche it will fit in is to serve as an all-in-one remote control for every household appliance at home. I think a price tag of $50 or under for a 7" quad-core tablet is the threshold to draw in many new buyers.


Posted by:

Annie
08 Mar 2016

I predict the tablet market won't grow until they can do it all. I'm surprised so few of them have a USB port, for example. I won't give up my laptop for a tablet until there is an inexpensive option that includes the ability to connect with USB devices (such as my oversized phone). (I'm also looking for an oversized phone with a USB port, then I'll skip the tablet all together.) I'm one of those rare people who have not yet bought a tablet.


Posted by:

iris
08 Mar 2016

I use my tablet for everything. Read, watch Netflex, email, etc. Just got a new desktop which I don't know why, because I just do not get windows l0.


Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
08 Mar 2016

I doubt they will die any time soon. I for one never bought into the "replace yearly" BS that corporations pretend to depend on. My iPad Air is great, especially for travel. Nor do I have any desire for a larger screen. I would hope never to go back to a laptop for air travel especially for weight and hassle trough TSA check in. I refuse to watch movies on even an iPhone 6+ and reading on one is pretty bad as well..


Posted by:

Jake Williams
08 Mar 2016

I have a thrid generatin fire that works just fine.
The screen is crisp and sharp and it meets all my needs for a tablet. When it no longer works, I will check out the tablet offerings available, but not before.


Posted by:

Duane
08 Mar 2016

In a couple of years when the batteries need replacing, you will have to decide whether to buy another tablet or something else because the battery can't be replaced. This is what Best Buy told me when I asked them to repair my Kindle. They don't fix Kindles.


Posted by:

Gilles
08 Mar 2016

The real story here is the market's and the press's ongoing obsession with growth as the only metric that matters. As soon as a market segment stops seeing growth, or even just a decline in the growth rate, the press declares that market segment as dead. No more double-digit growth is conflated to mean that nobody's buying or using the product anymore. Time to kill it off in search of the next new fad. The reality is they're still selling in the millions, and many more millions are still actively being used. There's still money to be made here if we'd only stop obsessing over unsustainable growth. The world is going to have to transition to a steady-state economy sooner or later, so why not start changing our thinking now?


Posted by:

swabyw
08 Mar 2016

No! The novelty of tablet is still in full swing. It just that there are so many cheaper, excellent tablets out there that there are no mentions of the BIG BOYS Brand. These cheaper tablets which carry the latest Android OS are doing great and consumers are saving money. I have 6 tablets home and none of them have the BIG BOYS brand. The most expensive one in my home is the IRULU and it is the worst of the bunch. It is Also the oldest one I have. The others which are Quad Core and faster processor and cost much less. No the tablet market is going strong. Every body I see has one or using their smart phone. Those BIG BOYS price themselves out of the market. That is the problem.


Posted by:

st channing
08 Mar 2016

I would also add that a 7" tablet with front and back cameras is perfect to take along on vacation. I had origially thought I wouldn't settle for one smaller than 10" but am amazed that a 7" fits in my palm just perfectly, not too large and not too small with crisp clear graphics. I choose Android because it offers all the features an iPad does and then some yet costs substantially less. An Android tablet provides convenient USB connection and most importantly a familiar file system for storage and retrieval, both of which an iPad lacks.


Posted by:

Paul
08 Mar 2016

I love my Nexus 7 tablet. It is great as a universal remote when paired with a Chromecast as well as being a super vacation device for email etc. I have a Nexus 5 also but the screen is a little too small for my aging eyeballs when I want to work comfortably.


Posted by:

Chuckj
08 Mar 2016

Well no, I don't think tablets are dead, but the newer ones are not offering any features except larger screens. My wife and I have Kindle Fires, in addition to our laptops. The Kindle's are excellent readers, and are very handy as e-mail/Internet devices when we don't want to schlep our big laptops. Though Amazon has upgraded Fire tablets, we see no reason to replace units that are working well. There is no "value proposition" here.


Posted by:

Rick
08 Mar 2016

I had the chance to pick up a tablet for free and pay 10 dollars per month to have it connected. I decided that it just wasn't worth the money or the bother. My phone does what the tablet can do, as far as I know, and the tablet cannot take the place of my laptop so what do I use it for. It is just another piece of technology that I have to keep track of. I think that I'll just stay with what I have.


Posted by:

ManoaHi
08 Mar 2016

The tablets come in at a high price point but are not great phones nor are they "full fledged" computers making them a kind of Pluto of the tech world. Even the MS Surface Pro 4, which does a great laptop/tablet, but, it makes a poor phone. Thus, you'll still need two devices. So not only the phablets, laptops age getting thinner and lighter. Both are putting the squeeze on the tablets between them. Tablets will only be long term viable when they can truly replace the laptop.


Posted by:

John
09 Mar 2016

I have a Kindle Fire tablet and while it doesn't do everything my desk top or laptop does I find I use it more often. Plus I love reading and this is the perfect solution. I tend to think tablets are here to stay. And I think it's crazy to think aphone should do every thing a computer or tablet does the size of onescreen alone tells out that.c


Posted by:

Rodger
09 Mar 2016

Tablets are primarily for play. Not so practical for serious business use. From my perspective, you need a decent computer to get any real work done. You also need to have an up-to-date mobile phone. That doesn't leave a lot of money on the table to replace a tablet as often as most people would like to. So yes, people hang onto their tablets longer. This isn't rocket science.


Posted by:

mel wilkens
09 Mar 2016

THANK YOU BOB ! U HAVE GIVEN ME ONCE AGAIN MORE KNOWLEDGE . KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK !!!!!


Posted by:

kay
09 Mar 2016

quOTE YOU wrote "which exceeded $1 billion in revenue for the first time during Q4 of 2016." Did you mean 1St Q or wILL EXCEED IN 2016????

EDITOR'S NOTE: Typo... 2015


Posted by:

Jim
21 Mar 2016

No and far from it. Sales may be lagging but unless they come out with something new, dynamic and useful, there is no point in upgrading. I seldom use my laptop except to backup our iPhone, iPads, and iPods. I use my iPad Air for virtually everything I used to do on a desktop or laptop and it is faster, more portable, more secure and easier to navigate. Windows 10 and Edge just don't impress me. I will stick with my tablet any day and every day.


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