IDC: Tablets won't be making a comeback until 2018

Tablet sales haven’t been doing very well this year as both iPads and its competitors saw marked declines in demand. However, there’s one category, detachable tablets, that’s bucking the general trend and is the secret to a tablet revival going forward.

Tablet sales growth for 2016 is at an all-time low of -11.5%. But as we reported earlier this year, convertibles and detachable tablets, are seeing a substantial uptick in sales. IDC believes this trend will continue in the next few years as more powerful device and specifications hit markets, and as more users opt out of using traditional PCs.

According to IDC’s forecast, positive growth will return to the tablet industry only in 2018, thanks to a combination of Windows and iOS devices capturing the professional market. Shipments are expected to grow over the next four years from 183.4 million units in 2016 up to 194 million in 2020. Diversification will also be a big part of the story, with more and more players opting for high-end, large-screen, “professional”, detachable tablets.

IDC’s analysts explained:

Appealing to the commercial audience will be key as detachable tablets aim to take a larger piece of the traditional PC market. Windows and iOS already have solid detachable offerings and with the latest version of Android, Google will also have a horse in the race as they finally offer better multitasking support and added security features.

That being said, the report suggests that traditional slate tablets will still continue to dominate the market, accounting for nearly 70% of sales in 2020. The main demand for those is expected to come from developing markets like China, India and Brazil, where a combination of low prices and high volume, as well as numerous competitors, are making slate tablets very attractive.

Obviously, while this is an educated forecast, we wouldn’t exactly bet money on it. 2020 is still a long way away, especially in terms of technology, so accurately predicting what’ll happen then is a very difficult task.

Still, it will be interesting to see how the device market shapes up in the years ahead, with ever more powerful hardware and ever more demanding applications.

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