Ever since Apple first introduced the world to the iPad, the tablet has come a long way. Now, hybrid devices define this realm, and "pro" versions have become popular in the corporate world for users that demand a little more power than the average individual. Despite this, many claim that tablets are dead.
Tech Eye's Nick Farrell argued that "tablets have disappeared" from the mobile scene because they're "nothing more than a fad." Meanwhile, Techcrunch contributor Romain Dillet asserted the same, stating that "tablets have become so unpopular."
The decline of the tablet
There is some data to support those assertions, but the picture isn't all that bleak. For example, a recent report conducted by IAB explained that tablets steal 17% of users' mobile device time, while smartphones account for the rest. Then there's data from the Adobe Digital Index that tablet traffic has only dropped 1.9% in the United Kingdom.
That said, there are some good reasons for the tablet market’s declining growth. Tamara Gaffney, principal at ADI, said that phablets are stealing the limelight, as consumers would rather have a single mobile device with a screen size that fulfills multiple needs. In other words, phablets make up the middle ground – they're easy to fit in pockets and carry around all day, and they provide users with enough screen real estate to use and play mobile apps.
Going down swinging
However, other arguments for why tablets are dying do not stand up as well. For one, Dillet explained that these devices have longer lifecycles. But that doesn't mean tablets are dead – consumers just aren't buying them as fast as they used to. Now that everyone has a tablet that they’re happy with, why would they upgrade?
This jibes with reports from eMarketer that the tablet market is still doing quite well. The number of tablet users is set to grow almost 5% this year, eMarketer pointed out, and if it does, that will mean more than half of the U.S. population will have one of these mobile devices. In particular, Gen Xers love tablets, with 67% of those individuals owning them. EMarketer said that tablet users are typically younger.
"67% of Gen Xers own tablets."
Furthermore, Dillet argued that "there weren't any tablets at Mobile World Congress." That is just false. CRN compiled a list of 10 of the most interesting ones introduced at the recent event. Panasonic, Lenovo, Alcatel, Huawei and ZTE had new tablets to show off, and with many of them running Android 6.0 and powered by Snapdragon chip sets, consumers are likely to be very interested in picking up a new tablet this year.
And there are still plenty of enterprise use cases for tablets. The health care industry readily adopts these devices. MHealthIntelligence reported that "tablets are the device of choice for home health services and remote health care platforms," and are effective in keeping patients informed on their health.
A life ahead
So no, tablets aren't dead. Sales might have slowed in the past few years and consumers might not be using them as often as they used to, but these devices are alive and well.
Much like the wearable market, tablets won't die as long as app developers focus on giving users high-quality, five-star apps. For one, brands must offer app experiences that are seamless across devices so when you pick up your tablet, the app or website looks and works the same as it does on a smartphone or laptop. Secondly, developers should integrate new features and capabilities that take advantage of larger screens and the space that comes with that.
Lastly, development teams must commit to continuous quality strategies. If they are not performing mobile app testing or monitoring user behaviors, apps won’t launch glitch-free or be optimized after release.