Worldwide tablet shipments will drop to 195 million units in 2016, down -5.9 percent from 2015, according to a new International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker forecast.
Looking beyond 2016, IDC expects the overall market to return to positive growth, albeit single digit, driven by growing demand for detachable devices.
As such, this somewhat hybrid category that brings together slate tablets and PCs is expected to grow from 16.6 million shipments in 2015 to 63.8 million in 2020.
“Beyond the growing demand for detachable devices, we're also witnessing an increase in competition within this segment that will help drive design, innovation, and a decline in average prices,” says Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets, IDC.
“At the latest Mobile World Congress, we saw new entrants, like Alcatel and Huawei, coming from the mobile space and expanding their portfolio to address the demand for detachables.
“Everyone in the industry recognises that traditional personal computers like desktops and notebooks will potentially be replaced by detachables in the coming years and this is why we will see a lot of new products being introduced this year.”
The change from slate form factor to detachables will bring along two other changes to the tablet industry.
First, devices with larger screen sizes (9" and above) will experience growth throughout the forecast while those under nine inches will decline.
And second, Microsoft-based devices will begin taking share from the other platforms, most notably Android.
“This momentous shift in form factor will bring along the first significant impact of Windows-based devices that the tablet market has seen,” adds Ryan Reith, Program Director, IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers.
“Windows 10 seems to be making headway in both the PC and tablet markets, mainly driven by devices with larger screen sizes.
“Despite the free licensing on products under 9 inches the growth for Windows-based tablets will be primarily on devices with displays between 9 and 13 inches.
“Until we see a day where touch is introduced for Mac OS X and inroads are paved to bring Android and Chrome more closely aligned, we believe Windows remains the logical choice for detachable products.”