The tablet market is 100 million units smaller. What happened?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by maflynn, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #1
    Interesting article over at Re/Code
    The tablet market is 100 million units smaller than expected. What happened?

    It confirms some long held opinions I have regarding the tablet market.

    I easily fit that demographic myself. I still have a second generation iPad Mini and a first generation iPad (though that is largely unused at this point).

    This is surprising on two fronts, first, its growing like crazy and second what IDC considers a detachable. I really don't consider the iPad pro a detachable. Heck, I think its a stretch to consider my Surface Pro a detachable as well. Computers like the Yoga and Surface Book seem to fit that category a lot better. Even so, that segment of computers is growing while the tablet segment appears to be languishing.
     
  2. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #2
    Why do you differentiate "detachable" the way that you do... especially when you think that the Surface Pro is not quite detachable? The only significant form-factor difference between the Surface Book and Surface Pro is the mechanism used to attach the keyboard to the tablet.

    I think that the IDC is making an arbitrary distinction simply to be able to report on the narrative they want to push. And yes, "detachable" is arbitrary since there have been attachable keyboard options available since the iPad 2.

    "tablet sales are on the decline* (*)except for tablets that have an attachable keyboard option"

    Much of the tech press has been beating the "tablets are a fad, tablets are dying" drum since the iPad 2 was released (and no other tablet manufacturer was able to reproduce Apple's success) If they keep saying it, eventually they will be correct.
     
  3. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #3
    As the article confirms, I think the answers are fairly obvious. Phones are much larger now than when the first iPad was released. Many if not most people still feel like they need a full computer somewhere in their life as well - so between those two there are a limited number of people who will also want or be able to afford an iPad. Of those that do, most will find that the iPad they bought several years ago isn't really all that different from the ones they could buy now, so who is going to spend money on a new one. They haven't been like phones that are used heavily all day every day and have real improvements, like markedly better screens and cameras every generation that provide daily benefit.

    This is starting to change though and I think their detachable category is right. An iPad Pro of today with a keyboard is a lot more of a computer replacement than any iPad you could buy even last year. The software continues its refinement, and more and more people are becoming accustomed to doing things the iOS way rather than the Windows or OS X way. As time progresses, those people will eventually have to make a decision between updating their traditional computer or their tablet - and I think in the longer run - the next 3-5 years, we'll see the tablet market stabilize and continue to grow at the expense of the traditional computer.
     
  4. joeblow7777 macrumors 68040

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    #4
    The market has reached a point of maturity/saturation. Why are people still surprised by this? The same thing happened to PCs and everyone declared them "dead".

    Pretty much everyone who wants a tablet has one, and they don't need to be replaced frequently.
     
  5. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

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    #5
    It's an interesting article. I still think they are trying too hard to make tablets into notebook replacements when the software and hardware just isn't there yet. Tablets were a lot "hotter" when they were trying harder to be tablets.
     
  6. tgara, Apr 11, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016

    tgara macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Exactly, I was going to say the same thing. When the iPad first came out in 2010, the first 2-3 years saw impressive sales, plus competitors coming out. Fast forward to today and as joeblow said, everybody who wants a tablet has one, and they do not feel the need (or are offered an incentive) to upgrade every year or two. It's no surprise (at least to me) that sales are slowing.
     
  7. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #7
    I think that is also true.

    It's difficult to quantify the amount of innovative software available for iOS, but it seemed like there has been a steady decline over the past few years. Is it due to the maturing of the platform? Lack of interest and/or incentive?
     
  8. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

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    #8
    It's a good question to ask. My opinion is that tablets offered a media/browser experience that was simpler than a laptop and welcomed by many. Over the years, they tried to add laptop features to a tablet and while it can do some functions of a laptop, the laptop is still far better if you need that platform.

    I think they should have continued to develop tablet software to be more innovative and give us different ways of working than we are used to. We went from touch screen everything to keyboard and pencil accessories. I'm not arguing that those accessories aren't worthwhile but it's easy to see that as you merge the tablet into a pc, you eat your own market and kill off what once made your product unique.
     
  9. TheRealAlex macrumors 65816

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    #9

    100% All True Apple and Tim Cook realized this years ago. So what did they decide. Come Out with a PRO Line every 2 years or so maybe every Year a New Pro Model will come out with Some New MUST Have Pro feature.

    A better example or question is why Do People Upgrade their Phones so much more than their Tablets. 2 Reasons

    #1. A Tablet is just good enough as a media consumption device it does what it needs to do and thats it the Design Has been the same now Since the iPad Air 2 was launched in late 2014 Sure better camera and speakers but same footprint. So Its Blah why change it? Apple in the Pro Line has Improved all that matters CPU, Speakers and Amazing new Display

    #2. Status Symbol quite literally its a social filter teens get bullied and laughed at based on what kind of phone they have same as it was with Sneakers in my day. You have Cool new Jordan ok you got Flex you got swag. Today you are not gonna be cool you won't get the cute girl or you need to be with your social group of friends You need Snapchat Instagram (forget Facebook thats for the 30 to 40 somethings) today it teens and tweens. That drive the need for the latest smartphone.
     
  10. maflynn thread starter Moderator

    maflynn

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    #10
    Just my perspective. The Surface Book, for instance is a laptop that has the bottom that detaches and you now have a fully functioning tablet. When you buy the SurfaceBook, you get the bottom and the top.

    The Surface Pro, the iPad are tablets that you have to purchase the keyboard separately. Its a tablet that can act like a laptop and it does not include the keyboard by default. A subtle difference I know, but one that I make.

    Agreed, we see that here at MR where people are using, or wanting to use the iPP as a replacement. I think for some, it can easily achieve that, but for others not so.
     
  11. Leo90 macrumors 6502

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    #11

    I was about to say the exactly same thing! Tablets will be our future home and work computing machines. For newer generations, a touch screen feels way more natural than mouse/keyboard combo. I believe iPad Pro in 5 years will replace all my computing needs.
     
  12. Beavix macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    In my case the moment I got my iPhone 6+ was the moment I ditched my iPad. The biggest iPhone became the best "tablet" for me because it's more portable, more useful and does the same things like an iPad.

    One year later I got myself a 12.9" iPad Pro thinking I'll be able to use it more for work, but the are no apps I can use. If iOS 10 doesn't bring more incentives for app developers to write better pro apps, this iPad is going to be my last tablet. The next device I'll buy it'll be a convertible with a full-featured operating system. Sadly Apple doesn't make one.
     
  13. bob24 macrumors 6502

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    #13
    My thoughts as well.

    I am close to thinking tablets with keyboards are a bit like netbooks: a way of trying to provide a desktop experience in a new form factor which many people think is the future and makes it popular for a few years, but will eventually die out because it is ultimately not practical.
     
  14. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

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    #14
    Because US carriers have conditioned people to upgrade their smartphones every two years.

    Also, wear and tear is a bigger issue with phones than tablets since phones tend to receive more abuse. Battery life is another factor. iPads get amazing battery life that a 20% reduction wouldn't be all that noticeable. Meanwhile, a 20% drop in battery life for smartphones can be the difference between the phone being able to last the entire workday or dying midday.
     
  15. thewitt macrumors 68020

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    #15
    Both tablets and PCs are purely replacement markets at the moment, with new features only driving sales every few years. Manufacturers have recognized this and forecasts are being reduced accordingly.
     
  16. Channan macrumors 68030

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    #16
    I wouldn't consider a tablet "detachable" unless the keyboard came with the tablet. You can buy a third party keyboard case/cover for almost any major tablet. Why does the OEM selling their own separate keyboard make any difference?

    If I bought an iPad Pro, I wouldn't buy the keyboard cover, but it seems my iPad would count toward the
    "detachable" group anyway, even though it would only ever be used like a regular iPad.
     
  17. zhenya macrumors 603

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    #17
    Having a dedicated connection on the tablet itself makes all the difference because there is no longer the need to include a battery in the keyboard half, and there is no lag as is so common with Bluetooth keyboards. Most 3rd party Bluetooth keyboards for the iPad have been as large and heavy as the iPad itself. Not to mention the durability issues most of them have - few will last more than a few months of the kind of use a person would subject a laptop to.
     
  18. rowspaxe macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Not likely. Keyboard + mouse/trackpad workflows are just more efficient: you see more and its more precise
     
  19. stevemiller macrumors 65816

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    #19
    In my mind the proper implementation of detachable is that you get a UI that is distinctly optimized for touch or keyboard/cursor depending on whether the latter is attached. Trying to do a catch all with one UI paradigm is always going to be riddled with compromise.

    In that respect we have a ways to go, as I feel like there's still a lot of room to grow even in just recognizing the ergonomic differences between tablets and smartphones. Luckily iOS is at least starting to think about those types of things finally.
     
  20. tgara macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    At least in the US, there was an economic incentive to upgrade every two years. The carriers made it easy by subsidizing the cost of the phone or giving it to you for free. Even now, you can get payment plans from the carriers and Apple as well. These plans are good for Apple (to sell more phones) and good for the carriers (keep you as a customer).

    Yep.
     
  21. maflynn thread starter Moderator

    maflynn

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    #21
    I think here in the US, it was a nice incentive to upgrade for 199 every other year. Now that we're paying full price for the phones (in the 700 dollar neighborhood), I think I'll be less likely to upgrade in 24 months.
     
  22. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

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    #22
    And this is actually showing up in Apple's iPhone sales. On the old plans, you were always paying subsidy as part of the $30/mo "data plan" regardless of whether you get a new phone or not so might as well just upgrade on the 2-year mark. Then T-Mobile jumpstarted the move from the carrier subsidized model to discounted service+financing. Prior to the iPhone 6/6+ release, US demand was already pretty flat to slightly declining. Most of the growth in iPhone sales came from China. I reckon slowing demand is also part of the reason Apple introduced their in-house iPhone Upgrade Program and slightly lowered the price of entry with the SE.

    I actually used to upgrade 2 iPhones every year (4-line family plan with alternating upgrade eligibility years). Now, we're still on the iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and 6+. The 5 and 5s have mechanical and/or battery issues so those will be upgraded to the SE once I find SIM-free/AT&T/Verizon 64GB Space Gray in-stock. However, I'm not feeling any need to replace the 6 and 6+.
     
  23. ctg7w6 macrumors regular

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    #23
    I like this answer. I have a big phone, a 9.7 iPad, and a MBA. The iPad is excessive when all is said and done. I could fairly easily get by in my life with few changes if I dropped the iPad. Don't get me wrong, I would be less happy, but if I could only afford two of those things, it'd be the phone and MBA. When it comes down to it, the phone is what I always have on me, it's big enough to browse the internet, email, etc., and it is a phone, which is a necessity. With a MBA (or any "full" computer), you can do literally anything you need to do. An iPad is limited (Flash, programming, anything like that). So, an iPad (or tablet) is a luxury item for anyone who needs computer functionality.

    For those who can get along fine with a tablet, and they literally NEVER need full desktop OS functionality, it can be the main computer.

    But from a rational standpoint, a phone is now big enough to be a primary consumption device while a laptop/desktop can be used for literally any digital-related function you may need.

    Especially for younger generations, I think this fits. I.e. a big phone goes everywhere with them and they write their college papers on a laptop (or do their business MS Office stuff, if they even need such a thing for their job).

    To be honest, I could see a lot of younger people who aren't technophiles JUST having a big phone. If they don't need a computer for work or college, what do you need a tablet or laptop for?
     
  24. businezguy macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Not only is the tablet market stagnant, so is the PC market. Also, I believe 2016 will be the first year when the smart phone market will be stagnant. A lot of this is due to the fact that processor/graphics have improved so much that there is less need to update these devices. There is also a lack of progress in hardware performance that is taking place. On the front page is an article on Intel ceasing with their tic/toc upgrades due to physical constraints.

    The bottom like, I think computing hardware is going to become a commodity, and the average selling price will shrink significantly over the next few years. Apple is fighting to keep their high margins, but I think that will ultimately be a losing battle. Why upgrade an iPad if it does everything you need, and it does it reasonably fast?
     
  25. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    #25
    phablets happened.

    rather than buying a phone AND a tablet, some people are compromising with an intermediate sized device.

    Personally, i think if you can justify having both that's the way to go, but if you can't the in-between device size definitely makes sense.
     

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