back to article Tablets become feebleslabs as sales spiral down

The tablet computer market has slumped into “spiraling decline”, according to box-counter IDC. The firm defines tablets as either a “slate”, like the iPad, or a “detachable” that offers a first-party keyboard like a Microsoft Surface device. The firm's totted up all the sums from a year's worth of its Worldwide Quarterly …

Silver badge

How many tablets does a person need?

Or should you throw away the old one to experience an Apple or Microsoft store or the joy of an Amazon purchase? The only ways to keep the sales up are:

1. Accelerate web bloat making the devices unusable

2. EOL the OS after a couple of years

3. Defective hard to replace batteries

4. Make square corners fashionable so they can be tiled to make larger displays.

17
0
Silver badge

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

I would actually use a tablet, but thus far any brand name fondle-slab is priced the same or higher than a midrange laptop.

Handy though it may be, I can't bring myself to pay more money for half the utility.

So I continue to read the papers (and The Reg) on my smart phone. The bigger screen would be nice, but not X hundred dollars nicer.

Now, if the street price of 7+ inch tablets can get below $200....

6
1

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

You can pick up a brand new padfone for about £100

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BRAND-NEW-Asus-PadFone-2-A68-32GB-Black-10-1-Docking-station/281874266293

2
1
Silver badge
Go

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

I paid about $200 for Asus Zedpad, and have been really impressed byeverything about it. Good specs, good looks and is a good comfortable weight in the Hand. I can recommend it, if you are looking.

1
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

I think a lot of people bought tablets because they were fashionable. Once they had them they realised that their phones were more convenient so more or less stopped using them. Anything more serious gets done on a PC/laptop.

I haven't conducted a world wide survey but this does seem to be the case among friends, family and colleagues.

6
1

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

And how much is the Phone that you have to slot into this thing?

1
0
Silver badge

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

Ditto - need to be affordable - any non essential purchase needs to not hammer the budget too badly.

I'm guessing many people have been stung by upgrade issues - e,g new versions of software making tablet perform really badly (looks at Apple) and so put off , or (alternatively) a tablet that never sees an upgrade and is a massive security risk (most android tablets) or crap spec & silly high price (looks at windows tablets)

2
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

I've got about 8, overlapping with Android based eBook readers. Different ecosystems.

They can be just as annoying as PCs. It's a false assumption that they're necessarily easier to live with than a PC.

3
0

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

padfone

I really like the idea of this, just got an Axon ZTE 7 and would love a slot-in larger screen for when at home (Netflix) or in the office (third PC screen). Someone needs to design a phone agnostic version of this.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

Anecdotal evidence isn't much to go by. My experience is the exact opposite.

Since I bought a tablet I do most of my home browsing/emailing/streaming on it. Most of my internet "consuming" in fact. I do not need to go sit in front of a computer. I do enough of that at work.

I don't use my phone simply because it is a fraction of the size. Why would I use it when there is a tablet that's just as easily to hand?

6
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

I downvoted because although I agree on the convenience of the smartphone, I disagree with the fashion argument.

I think it's simply that people prioritize their smartphone, so with those taking the dollars, and with the fast churn increasing smartphone performance and screen size the utility hole that tablets filled is shrinking.

I only have a Moto E Gen 1 and that gets the quick lookups that I might previously have done on my tablet.

0
0

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

The size thing: since I bought my tablet I barely use my phone for anything but photos and calls. The only advantages the tablet has are screen size, 8.3" vs 5.5" and better speakers, everything else is substantially inferior. Turns out it's much more important to be able to see things comfortably on the screen and have controls that work with pudgy fingers, even if it works slower.

My phone is really just a convenient camera that can make calls and access the internet if there's no WiFi for the tab. A PIA to do anything else with.

1
0
Silver badge

Phones got bigger

When your screen was 3.5", it was harder to do lots of reading than it is today when your screen is 5.5". Hence, less room for a tablet to be seen as necessary - especially the 7 to 8" size.

Also, less need for tablets to be upgraded as even an iPad 2 still works fine and was only orphaned by iOS 10 a few months ago. They have a replacement cycle much more like a laptop than a phone.

And who knows, maybe phones will start getting a longer replacement cycle. If so, it will hurt Apple and Samsung a lot more than slowing tablet sales.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

Or should you throw away the old one to experience an Apple or Microsoft store or the joy of an Amazon purchase? The only ways to keep the sales up are:

1. Accelerate web bloat making the devices unusable

2. EOL the OS after a couple of years

3. Defective hard to replace batteries

4. Make square corners fashionable so they can be tiled to make larger displays.

I thought they were already doing the first three all along?

1
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

That would depend on the type of medication the person is on. Always consult your GP and/or dispensing chemist first.

Mine's the one with the stack of prescriptions in the pocket.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

Indeed. Xperia Tablet Z3 compact and a 2013 Nexus 7 here is daily use. The battery isn't as good as it used to be, but still best part of a weeks use between charges, both running very recent Android security patches, still running fast and hassle free.

Why should I upgrade? It's very easy to confuse no demand for products, with existing product is good enough why should I buy new.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: How many tablets does a person need?

You can pick up a brand new padfone for about £100

[snip eBay link to Asus PadPhone 2]

Maybe ... but that's just the tablet part of a 2012-vintage phone/tablet hybrid/combo thing running (probably) Ice Cream Sandwich and upgradeable no further than KitKat ... and you'd need to buy the phone as well.

If you can even find the phone, it's a LOT of security patches behind the state-of-the-art.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Everybody who wants one, got one

... and if they still work, there is preciously little reason to replace them.

For example, I am typing this on my Nexus 10, which is getting to be close to 5 years old. However, it still works fine, and anything mid-range I could get to replace it won't be an improvement in terms of the screen quality, which is the crifical requirement for me.

My wife's original Kindle Fire did get replaced last year after 6 years of service: the hardware still works fine, but unfortunately it does not have enough flash and ram to run a half-way recent cyanogen anymore.

Tablets, like desktops, and increasingly smartphones have become another category of durable goods with a steady-state market. There will be no more exponential sales growth overall, and any vendor's gain will necessarily be another vendor's loss. Just like kitchen appliances, really: very few people replace treir stove every other year just because a new shiny-shiny model came out.

20
1
Silver badge

Re: Everybody who wants one, got one

>... and if they still work, there is preciously little reason to replace them.

...and that is almost entirely due to Big Tech who have been pushing cloud computing really hard.

If the device is a dumb terminal and by usage it needs to be small, there's precious little you can do to make a new one better than the old.

0
1

Re: Everybody who wants one, got one

For example, I am typing this on my Nexus 10, which is getting to be close to 5 years old. However, it still works fine, and anything mid-range I could get to replace it won't be an improvement in terms of the screen quality, which is the crifical requirement for me.

I also have a nexus10 though sadly the battery is on it's way out, after a couple of hours usage the thing just dies with very little warning ((battery monitor would be 60-70% not long beforehand). It has also started to feel a bit sluggish.

Totally agree that there seems to be nothing at a reasonable price that comes close to the screen quality - I almost wish I hadn't got used to the Nexus as then what's available now would seem like an upgrade.

3
0

Re: Everybody who wants one, got one

Yes, this is true. Also, there's less to go wrong on a tablet than a PC. There are fewer parts and fragile connectors involved and fewer moving parts like the hinges of a laptop or the spinning disks of the old desktops that are now coming to the end of their lives. Despite this, market pundits and manufacturers are hoping for the shorter product life cycle that they've grown used to with PCs.

0
0

Re: Everybody who wants one, got one

I've upvoted this but it isn't quite true. IDC as usual have only grasped half the picture (I suspect they do not have a very balanced exposure to demographic classes of experience).

In my line of work I regularly come across people who are unaware of the benefits of tablets, while struggling to use a PC (or in some cases have never used t'Internet). I point them in the direction of a tablet, advising an iPad if they can stretch to one since they have a simpler OS to learn/teach and are, I think, nicer to use and generally 'work better' than even similarly-priced Androids.

The decline of tablet sales obviously has several causes, already mentioned, but I suspect the main one is that if you've bought one and it does the job, why buy another until it wears out unless you want one to keep in the bathroom (which is where my tablets are frequently used)?

Incidentally screen size these days (since >Full HD is the norm in the mid-upmarket) is more about the ease of use than readability - if you can read a magazine you can read a modern iPad screen, but if your dexterity is limited then a big screen is easier. Upgrading from a crummy Tesco 10x6 screen to an iPad/Samsung 20x15 is a worthwhile upgrade but all the other bells and whistles are just that.

0
0
FAIL

Got one. Meh

I got a Hudl with a keyboard attached.

We take a lot of photos on holiday, and I like to back them up onto a USB stick while we are away. I also occasionally connect into work

I thought a tablet would be a better solution than a netbook: lighter, modern, touch screen.

Citrix was fine, but it turns out that USB OTG is a complete pain in the arse. Basically it doesn't work.

The result is that I still take the trusty NC10, which has now been loaded with Ububtu. I was quite disappointed really. And it's not supported any longer, I believe.

I still use it occasionally, but it doesn't offer me much advantage over the phone (and its usually further away, with a flat battery). If I need a bigger screen, I use the PC.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Got one. Meh

"Citrix was fine, but it turns out that USB OTG is a complete pain in the arse. Basically it doesn't work."

That surprises me - I used to use USB OTG for a mouse on my Nexus, with a BT keyboard to do all sorts of things. I had DOSBox installed, running a Windows strategy based game on the thing...

It was a bit slower than I'd have liked (in terms of screen redrawing (which was all virtualised I think)

But it was a good little product - and USB OTG was a key feature in there...

0
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Got one. Meh

Bert offered: "...USB OTG is a complete pain in the arse. Basically it doesn't work."

When the Touch Screen driver becomes corrupted (seems to happen once in a while with some Win 8.1 tablets), and the hard reset procedures have no effect, then the only thing left is an OTG cable, a powered USB hub, and a keyboard and mouse.

You'd better hope that the OTG works, else how else can you fix it?

Just happened (again) last evening.

0
0
Silver badge

People want them to be part of a detachable PC

I'm not convinced by that.

If you look at the range of tablets on sale, the majority have relatively low screen resolutions and miserly allocations of RAM and Flash. That's clearly because most people are not ready to spend significant amounts of money on them.

Detachable PCs that have the grunt to do real work are going to be considerably more expensive.

People in marketing are trying to shift underpowered convertible devices because they've convinced themselves this is where the next market opportunity is. But "people in marketing" aren't "people".

14
0

Re: People want them to be part of a detachable PC

> "people in marketing" aren't "people"

I second that!

0
0
Silver badge

Stats show exactly what I observe in my family

iPad - meah... Samsung - meah... Lenovo yoga - fight for it.

The classic slab is dead. The only way to sell something is to offer various improved ergonomics takes on it. As usually Sony was way to early with their wedges to the market. Lenovo is about right with the timing and what it is shipping. It looks good, its usability beats any other tablet hands down and it is not a simple slab.

1
1
Gold badge

Re: Stats show exactly what I observe in my family

Lenovo's Yoga pure tablets are an absolutely lovely design. But, seem to have horrible low-res screens. They did a hi-res one at iPad prices a couple of years ago, but last time I looked they'd discontinued it.

The weird bendy laptops and detachable hybrids also look rather nice. But I'm only really after a tablet.

My iPad3 is now getting rather sluggish, and the battery is only worth 3 hours. Which given the use it's had every day is fair enough. It's now time for something a bit thinner and lighter.

0
0
Silver badge

Home users that want a tablet to consume have one or more, and cheap ones are not much worse than expensive ones.

Business users that want a tablet to consume have one too or more likely they're using a large form phone or phablet.

People that use computers to create content have had a tablet relalised they're shit for that and gone back to using laptops or desktops.

We're seeing renewed interested in thin light laptops. And I note that Google's flagship Pixel Chromebook has gone back to the square screen format of old. Fantastic, are manufacturers realising that the old 3:2 screens were much better for working on documents than feckin letterbox screens? I do hope so. I've been resorting to using an ancient HP to do actual work on because the screen is far better suited to documents.

6
0

Horses for Courses

Personally I find a 15" high resolution letter box format better for work as it means I can comfortably have two applications open side by side with out feeling that they're loosing valuable width.

Even if I'm working on a single word document, the letter box format means I can have 2 full pages on the screen at once

1
0
Silver badge

Is anyone surprised?

We're more or less at saturation point now.

Only exception being Amazon and only because their tablets break after about 13 months most of the time.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Is anyone surprised?

Is anyone surprised? Yes. Market analysis companies like Gartners and Microsoft. These know-nothing know-it-all prognosticators said tablets sales will continue to rise. And then people said "too bad Microsoft doesn't have a mobile OS to catch this explosive growth." Microsoft responded by going 'mobile first' and making everything a mobile OS by releasing Windows 8. PC sales tanked. Then the know-nothing know-it-all seers said "PC's are dead, tablets are the future". But what they and Microsoft failed to realize is PC sales tanked because of Windows 8 and not because of tablets.

And Microsoft still does not realize how most people hate Windows 8 and Windows 10. Tablets have reached market saturation; people are only to replace what is broken. And have PC sales rebounded after tablets have fallen out favor? Nope. Because Microsoft is too dumb to know that putting any start menu back would fix the horrible Windows 8. I guarantee you that if Microsoft re-released Windows 7, PC sales would shoot right back up. All everybody wants is a Windows 7.1 that includes the performance tweaks of Windows 8; what we got was a worse Windows 8. They buy Windows, not because they want too, but because they think the only other choice is a Mac, which is also making Windows 8-esque moves.

8
0
MJI
Silver badge

I still want one.

To load up with OS maps rather than carry tons of paper around

2
0
Gold badge
Happy

Re: I still want one.

They do tend to break when you fold them to shove in a pocket though...

3
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: I still want one.

"...maps..."

Battery life in the field will be an issue.

Will require careful consideration to avoid this issue.

0
0
MJI
Silver badge

Re: I still want one.

Power it off the fag lighter.

Yes I drive on roads navigating with OS maps

0
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: I still want one.

OS maps kinda implies hiking, vice driving. Sorry I made a bad assumption.

Cheers!!

0
0
MJI
Silver badge

Re: I still want one.

Don't worry I green lane as well.

Another need for OS maps

Don't want to go off piste do I?

0
0

Does this trend count against Phablets too, or just useless homebound WiFi Tablets?

0
0
Silver badge

Was thinking about this the other day...

... my other half was talking about a replacement for her Nexus 7 (Mk2 version) and I was at a loss as to what to replace it with. I remember a time a few years ago there were premium tablets being launched left right and centre and now...its all £50 cheapies or silly expensive tech demo machines.

Probably just get one of Amazon's own.

From what I see the tablets are being dumped and people are going back to buying laptops. Certainly the trend I'm seeing from my customers. That or the little kids who grew up playing games on the iPad now want a proper gaming machine.

1
0

Re: Was thinking about this the other day...

@jason 7

I replaced my Nexus 7 with an Nvidia K1.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Was thinking about this the other day...

Good call! I forgot about that one.

0
0

We're looking at Surface like devices as desktop replacements. God knows why as the superlight laptops like Dell XPS are so much more convenient, reliable, resilient and cheaper! But, shiny wins!

1
0
Silver badge
Pint

Tablets can be a royal pain in the arse...

One Win 8.1 Tablet sometimes refuses to respond to the touch-screen inputs. All the various reset processes fail to accomplish anything. Now what?

Well, it requires an On The Go cable, a powered USB hub, a mouse and keyboard, in order to gain access to the GUI to invoke a Repair Windows command. Would your Auntie know that?

Then it needs several hours to reinstall a GB of security updates again.

My Android tablet (Nexus 7) is no less a pain in the arse.

And don't get me started about Apple. They're the worst in my experience.

My many Win 7 laptops are BY FAR my least troublesome gadgets. (Except Win RT mentioned below.)

Tablets are convenient, but can be very annoying.

Afterthought: My Surface 2 with Win RT has been perfection. Hardly any updates, zero problems. Stable as a wood burning stove. Just works. Stability via obscurity.

1
0
Silver badge

Wanna sell me a new tablet...? Show up with a flexible-display one that can be folded in half, and we can talk...

0
0

Flexible screen is the easy bit. It's making the the rest of the components 'flex' that's the hard bit!

0
0
Silver badge
Pint

"...flex...display one that can be folded in half..."

Requirements Writing 101:

Folding is easy.

It's the "fully functioning after unfolding" requirement that's the tricky bit.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: "...flex...display one that can be folded in half..."

I refer to this instructional material on the folding element of the requirement, potentially justifying the unfolding functional qualifier.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzDATPQrs4c

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Slabs are only good when they are new

over time they become a nice flat paperweight.

1) non-serviceable batteries fail to retain charge

2) mandatory operating system updates cause instability for older slabs to the point where some services no longer work.

3) lack of updates from "legacy" (read nearly new) slabs

4) up front cost

5) vendor lock in with your other services (i.e. you will have all apple devices, or all android devices, or all Microsoft devices unless you want to purchase everything more than once) you can't just go out and buy a slab without this thought process

6) Slabs are not cheap, however they are built to last about 18-24 months for serious use. I am not prepared to fund disposable technology at this scale for financial and environmental reasons.

I love the format - I hate the business model.

1
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017