As the Tablet Market Continues to Decline, the Hybrid Market Begins to Grow

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IDC’s Quarterly Tablet Tracker is estimating that tablet shipments around the world are going to decline for the second year in a row. The analyst are expecting that in 2016 there will be a 9.6 percent fall from the previous year, with even more in 2017. However, despite the increasingly negative growth of the tablet market, there is a good chance for rebound due in 2018. What could be helping this sector make such a recovery? The answer is detachable tablet sales.

Why Detachable Tablets?

Many professionals in the tech sector are suggesting to their clients that they move away from a large assortment of electronic devices and shift most of their focus unto hybrids. Detachable tablets are the best of both worlds in the computing space: users get all of the convenience and portability of a tablet, but get the versatility and long term use of a laptop PC.

Small to medium sized businesses rarely have a large technical support team, if they even have one at all. Having an office that uses desktop PCs, Android or iOS tablets can lead to a lot of compatibility issues and networking problems that an SMB might not be able to handle without outside support. This can lead to more expenses, and in the long term hurt the bottom line.

Jean Philippe Bouchard, who is one of the research directors of tablets at IDC, said:

“The detachable tablet segment is considered by some manufacturers, like Apple, as a way to spur replacement cycles of the existing slate tablet installed base.”

He feels that instead of worrying about the decline in sales of regular tablets, that the industry should embrace the expansion of the hybrid tablet technology.

Current Market Trends, Future Prospects

Currently, hybrids only account for about 16 percent of the market share. However, experts are projecting that this number will expand to over 30 percent in the next 4 years.

“One reason why the slate tablet market is experiencing a decline is because end users don’t have a good enough reason to replace them, and that’s why productivity-centric devices, such as detachable tablets, are considered replacement devices for high-end larger slate tablets,”

IDC still thinks that there will be a large demand for units as the actual sale cost of the current tablets continues to free fall. They estimate over 100 million units will be sold in 2020.

According to Ryan Reith, who is a Vice President in IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device unit, says:

“In many emerging markets, the only computing device for many will be a mobile device, whether that is a small-screen tablet, smartphone or both. This is the main reason why, despite all the hype that the detachable category receives, we believe cheaper slate tablets fill an important void.”

This is a boon for SMBs all over the world. Tech costs are still a large percent of the ongoing operating costs of a business, so anything that can lower the barrier to entry will make a huge splash in the sector.

How will this effect Windows?

Microsoft has been gaining a lot of news coverage recently, but for all the wrong reasons. Over the last few weeks, its newest operating system Windows 10 has been forcing itself unto Windows 7 & 8 machines, causing a huge backlash. Some are even calling the installations similar to malware.

Windows tablets are all mostly unaffected, since they run a different version of the OS. However, with the negative press that Windows 10 has been garnering, it could have a potential negative effect on Microsoft’s tablet share, especially in the hybrid market.

Currently, they have about a 70 percent share of the hybrid tablet market, but combining the negative attitudes towards the company with the massive gains being made by both Google and Apple in this market, IDC feels that the company could lose 20 percent or more of its market share by 2020.

Design Changes

One final piece to the expanding market place of hybrid tablets is the major changes being made to tablet design. Currently, most tablets are around 9 or 10 inch screens. Larger screens will become the norm as the hybrid tablets begin to become more popular, and tablets under 9 inches will become much less popular. This is mostly due to ease of use. Hybrid keyboards will become bigger to accommodate more versatile uses, so the screen will have to get larger to keep up.

The good news for Microsoft is that their overwhelming market share is currently due to them leading the way on the touch design interface. Apple and Google are still stuck with having multiple OS designs between tablets and laptops. Google Chrome and Android are slowly getting feature parity, but MAC OS X and iOS still have a long way to go. Mac OS X still doesn’t support touch interface, which is a major hurdle that Apple will have to overcome.

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