The traditional tablet may not be dying, but it’s increasingly being relegated to the low end of the market, according to an IDC report released Thursday. Users are migrating toward convertibles instead, and the vendors are following.
IDC said worldwide tablet sales fell 14.7 percent to just 39.6 million units during the first quarter of 2016. Excluding some seasonal holiday upticks, tablet sales have generally declined from their all-time high in the fourth quarter of 2013, when worldwide sales reached 78.6 million units.
IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said traditional slate tablets still dominate the market with 87.6 percent of all units sold. Increasingly, though, they’ve become “synonymous with the low end of the market,” IDC said in its report. The firm said it believes the market for iPads will continue, but only as replacements, not as new customers purchasing an iPad for the first time.
Two trends seem to be emerging, IDC noted: First, premium tablets are evolving into detachables like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Apple iPad Pro. Detachable sales climbed by triple-digit rates to 4.9 million units, IDC said. Second, the traditional tablet is heading down toward the low end of the market, where Asian smartphone vendors are applying their mobile acumen to this larger form factor.