The Redefinition of the Tablet Continues

    The tablet computer sector has been in the doldrums for quite some time. Judging from recent reports, the slump continues.

    Indeed, the boulder seems to be gaining momentum as it rolls down the hill. Last week, IDC said that 43 million units were shipped during the third quarter. That represents a year-over-year decline of 14.7 percent in tablet shipments. That is a big percentage, especially in a market that has been contracting for some time. Apple extended its lead somewhat over Samsung. The two remained the biggest players in the constricting market.

    Strategy Analytics also reported on the tablet sector last week. The report focuses on the progress that Apple is making. This is a sensitive time for Apple, considering its critically panned MacBook Pro. The company said Apple’s iPad Pro enjoyed a 6 percent increase in price and only endured a shipment loss of 6 percent during the quarter. That, on balance, beat the market’s 10 percent contraction and 7 percent average selling price.

    The bottom line is that the tablet market is moving from being broad-based and generic to being a bit more specialized. Part of that process, almost by definition, is that it will be smaller. The move to 2-in-1 devices is part of that.

    Talk Android reports that Barnes & Noble is reentering the tablet sector with a new version of the Nook. Not much is definitively known about the putative device, though the site takes some guesses. The important thing is that the idea of a purpose-built instead of a generic tablet is taking deep enough root to entice Barnes & Noble to release the new Nook.

    VDC Research also discusses a change in orientation for tablets. In this case, it is corporate devices:

    Over the next five years, VDC expects to see the consumer grade line of business (LoB) tablet market grow at a 3.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2020, while LoB rugged tablets will grow at a 1.4% CAGR through 2020. The total (rugged and consumer grade) LoB tablet CAGR though 2020 is 3.1%. Many of the industries with the highest potential for growth are those where the tablet form factor can be leveraged in customer-facing workflows to better allow employees to engage with consumers.

    The firm identified nine sectors. The top four, of roughly equal size, are retail shop floor and hospitality, field services, health care and manufacturing.

    Successful people and successful industry segments are resilient. At one time, tablets were king of the hill. Those times are gone forever. However, there is no reason that tablets can’t make the transition being moderately sized players. It is a change that the desktop PC market has undergone as well. The numbers may not be as gaudy, but they are still significant.

    Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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