Tablet Market To Grow Again, But Only In 2018

Analyst house IDC has predicted a tough few years ahead for tablet makers after it warned the tablet market will only return to growth in 2018.

Besides the gloomy prediction there was good news for Microsoft, as IDC reckons that Windows-based tablets will challenge Apple iOS for market share in 2020.

Ongoing Slump

IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker predicted that the world tablet market will continue to decline for the remainder of 2016 as year-over-year growth reaches an all-time low of -11.5 percent, on shipments of 183.4 million units

In 2018 positive growth will return in 2018 and will last until 2020 with shipments reaching 194.2 million tablets. And IDC said that detachable tablets will continue to steal share from traditional PCs.

IDC’s trackers include both traditional “slate” tablets and hybrid devices such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

“Appealing to the commercial audience will be key as detachable tablets aim to take a larger piece of the traditional PC market,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.

“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.”

IDC also feels that smaller tablets will struggle to shine in the years ahead against its larger brethern. In 2016, 55 percent of all tablets will be 9 inches or smaller, it said, but by 2020 this share is forecast to drop to 40 percent.

Although detachable tablets capture the spotlight, slate tablets will continue to account for the majority of shipments throughout the forecast, IDC insisted. It said that in 2016 85 percent of all tablets shipped will be slates, and this will decrease to 68 percent by 2020, as Windows-based tablets grow to challenge Apple iOS devices.

Looking at market share IDC found that Android tablets still enjoy the largest tablet market share (66.2 percent) in 2016. Apple’s iPad maintain second spot at 22.4 percent, with Windows tablets sitting at 11.3 percent.

Windows Challenge

But look forward four years and it makes for worrying decline for Android’s market share. IDC predicted that by 2020, Android will have 57.8 percent market share, followed by Apple with 22.9 percent.

But Windows tablets will be close behind at 19.3 percent.

Of course, long range predictions like these have to taken with a large pinch of salt, but it does suggest that Microsoft could be on the right track with its hybrid tablet design.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 has gained largely positive reviews, with the only issue being its sleep/power issue, and the cost of the device itself.

Besides its hybrid tablet, Microsoft has also produced a laptop challenge to the Macbook Pro. The Surface Book is Redmond’s attempt at creating a flagship laptop capable of showing off the Windows 10 operating system.

Take our Windows 10 quiz here!

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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