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Tablet Market to Rebound (Slightly) in 2018

Tablet sales are expected to drop nearly 10% this year, but two years from now the detachables market could reinvigorate the category.
Katie Kuehner-HebertJune 2, 2016
Tablet Market to Rebound (Slightly) in 2018

While the worldwide market for tablets has peaked, the detachable segment will drive a slight rebound starting in 2018, according to a new IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker forecast released Thursday.

Worldwide tablet shipments are expected to decline for the second straight year in 2016, dropping 9.6% compared with 2015 volumes, the Framingham, Mass.-based firm said.

The market, which has already peaked, should continue to decline through 2017. But then it will slightly rebound starting in 2018, due mainly to expected growth in the sales of detachable tablet products, IDC says. Currently the detachable category only accounts for 16% of the market, but IDC expects it to reach 31% in 2020.

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As more tablet manufacturers start to shift their focus toward the detachable tablet segment and consumer awareness of the product increases, average selling prices have dropped, IDC said.

“The detachable tablet segment is also considered by some manufacturers, like Apple, as a way to spur replacement cycles of the existing slate tablet installed base,” Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC’s research director for tablets, said in a press release. “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 like detachable tablets are considered replacement devices for high-end larger slate tablets.”

IDC continues to expect more than 100 million slate tablets to ship annually through 2020, due to the low cost associated with smaller screen slate devices. Slate tablets with screen sizes less than 9 inches had an average selling price of $183 in 2015 and IDC expects this to decline to $157 in 2020. If you want a tablet for movies and music on the go, there isn’t currently anything better out there.

“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,” said Ryan Reith, the quarterly tracker’s program vice president. “This is the main reason why, despite all the hype that the detachable category receives, we believe cheaper slate tablets fill an important void.”