Strap in for a rollercoaster ride in tablet sales.
In a surprise to no one, the tablet market will shrink for the rest of 2016, market researcher IDC forecasts. The predicted 11.5 percent year-over-year decline is a bit of a shocker, though. Worldwide, 183.4 million tablets will have shipped by the end of 2016.
What is a surprise is IDC's forecast that sales will hit positive territory in 2018. Demand will continue to rise through 2020, with shipments reaching 194.2 million tablets that year. Credit business customers for that resurgence, especially as detachable tablets elbow computers out of the workplace.
"Windows and iOS already have solid detachable offerings and with the latest version of Android, Google will also have a horse in the race as they finally offer better multitasking support and added security features," IDC said in its quarterly forecast.
While tablets with detachable keyboards will drive demand, large-screen slate tablets will still account for the bulk of all sales. One reason for that: Smaller tablets, with screen of 9 inches or less, will be discounted so heavily they will become "a pure volume or platform play like for Amazon for instance," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director at IDC.