Global tablet market continues to decline, rebound likely by 2018

Global tablet shipments are expected to decline for the second straight year in 2016, with volume going down almost 10% as compared to last year, according to a new report by research firm International Data Corporation, released on Thursday.

However, it may see a slight rebound in 2018 on the back of detachable tablets, which are gaining traction worldwide. Detachable tablets include 2-in-1 laptops, which have detachable keyboard and can act as tablets when the keyboard is detached.

"The tablet market in totality has seen it speak and will face down years in 2016 and 2017, followed by a slight rebound in 2018 and beyond driven by detachable tablet growth," the report said which surveyed more than 150 vendors manufacturing tablets (slate tablets) and 2-in-1(detachable tablets). 

"Right now the detachable category only accounts for 16% of the market and IDC expects it to reach 31% in 2020." The report noted that tablet manufacturers, both large and small, are slowly shifting focus toward the detachable tablet market segment, which has quickly resulted in increased product offerings, lower average selling prices, and broadened consumer awareness for the category.

"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," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director, Tablets.

However, IDC expects slate tablet segment to reach 100 million by 2020 driven by its falling prices. In 2015, an average selling price of slate tablets with screen sizes less than 9 inches was $183. IDC projects this to decline to $157in 2020. 

"Despite the small screen and typically lower configurations, for many this still provides a fairly decent computingexperience," the report said. "Especially within emerging market." "In many emerging markets the only computing device for many will be a mobiledevice, whether that is a small screen tablet, smartphone, or both," Ryan Reith, Program Vice President, IDC's Worldwide QuarterlyMobile Device. 

"This is the main reason why, despite all the hype that the detachable category receives, we believe cheaper slate tablets fill animportant void."