[SHARK] Are Tablets Dead?
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.
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 8 Mar 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [SHARK] Are Tablets Dead? (Posted: 8 Mar 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved