back to article Google may just have silently snuffed the tablet computer

Google today announced new phones, VR kit and home gadgetry. But it didn't announce a tablet. And nobody cared. We've known for ages that tablet sales are declining. The most recent tablet sales data we've covered has the market at about 150m units a year. Apple has a quarter of the market and Samsung has about 15 per cent. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google may just have silently snuffed Democracy

    by not inventing a voting machine that sells who you voted for to the highest bidders.

  2. RIBrsiq
    Windows

    I must be getting old: I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC.

    Of course, I also remember a time when PowerPC was supposed to be the future.

    Really old...

    1. GlenP Silver badge
      Meh

      I remember when the PC was the future!

      Really, really old!

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Unhappy

        I don't remember this weekend

        Really, really, really old.....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Unhappy

          Re: I don't remember this weekend

          I remember when I was actually interested in new IT kit.

          Really, really, really, really old....in my 40's for FFS!

          1. Esme

            Re: I don't remember this weekend

            IT's not been the same since they did away with ticker-tape readouts and booting machines from hexpads on the front panel.

            Really, really,really,really,really old - nigh on 60!

            1. Picky
              Coat

              Re: I don't remember this weekend

              Bah!! - I remember booting an ICT 1904S with a bank of toggle switches!

              1. Philip Lewis

                Re: I don't remember this weekend

                ICL1904, surley?

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: I don't remember this weekend

              "hexpads on the front panel."

              Hexpads on the front panel. Luxury! In my day there were just rows of switches. Except when we had to take the switches out to boil them up for soup. Then we had to twist bits of wire together.

              "nigh on 60!"

              ah, that explains it. A youngster. Don't know they're born these days...

            3. The Rest of the Sheep

              Re: I don't remember this weekend

              Front panel Hexpads??? You spoiled brat! We had binary switches, and we were GRATEFUL. Kids these days...

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I don't remember this weekend

              Yep ... first systems I worked on had 8k toroid coil core memory, 512K drum memory for fast storage and 5 MB removable platter disks. I 'fingerboned' in maintenance programs from the front panel flipping switches to signify 1's and 0's, then stuffing them in memory locations or registers accessible from there.

              Yes .... I am now 60, and still working IT, although evolved into IT Security now...thank goodness. If I didn't, at my age, I'd be out of a job in IT as it's a younger game now.

              1. Mellipop

                Re: I don't remember this weekend

                Oh really? I learnt Scala at 65.

                I think next is a toss up between Rust or Go.

                All you do is keep learning.

                Typed on my Nexus 10.

            5. missjanecobb

              Re: I don't remember this weekend

              Nah, you haven't lived until you've booted your machine by first setting a row of toggle switches and then feeding in a length of punch tape. Then loading a boot disc the size of your desk drawer.

              Really, really, really really - oh heck, lost count - old.

            6. missjanecobb

              Re: I don't remember this weekend

              Nah, you haven't lived until you've booted your machine by first setting a row of toggle switches and then feeding in a length of punch tape. Then loading a boot disc the size of your desk drawer.

              Really, really, really really - oh heck, lost count - old. Mid 60s.

            7. Adrian Tawse

              Re: I don't remember this weekend

              So you had hexpads you lucky s*d. We had twelve toggle switches and a load button. 60! a mere youth - beat 67.

          2. oldcoder

            Re: I don't remember this weekend

            I barely remember the first computer I ever touched... An IBM 1620....

            really, really, really,... I forget.... :-)

        2. Bob Starling

          I don't remember what I just read

          I am a goldfish

        3. a pressbutton
          Windows

          Re: I don't remember this weekend

          ... I dont remember last weekend, but am aware that I do not know the future

        4. stucs201
          Pint

          Re: I don't remember this weekend

          But I'm hoping the explanation is beer, not age.

        5. Florida1920 Silver badge

          Re: I don't remember this weekend

          You guys are kids. I remember when Moses came down from the mountain with TWO tablets. The TOS were pretty heavy, too.

          1. Mutton Jeff

            Re: I don't remember this weekend

            Luxury, I remember when stone henge was built, you paid a lot of sheep/goats/shrunken heads per Megalith in those days.

          2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: I don't remember this weekend

            "You guys are kids. I remember when Moses came down from the mountain with TWO tablets."

            At least they still to the job they were designed for, which can't be said of my Nexus 7.

      2. Flywheel Silver badge

        Do you remember that 286 PC you paid over a grand for? Ah, those were the days!!

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Do you remember that 286 PC you paid over a grand for? Ah, those were the days!!

          I remember my company paying £3600 for a 286 PC. And it paid for itself in four months.

          1. montyburns56

            Re: Do you remember that 286 PC you paid over a grand for? Ah, those were the days!!

            It became sentient in only four months?

            "Dave, can you set up my direct debit for IBM?"

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          My 486DX2 66MHz with a massive 32MB RAM came to about £3000, and with a massive 500MB hard disk. (both are MB, not GB). 1994.

          1. Trainee grumpy old ****
            Unhappy

            I suddenly felt very old recently when, in conversation with a junior colleague, I recalled the first time I used a PC with a whole *1 Mb* of RAM and being amazed at the extra memory (all 300-odd Kb of it) would make.

            Said colleague admitted to his first PC having had a mere 512 Mb of RAM.....

        3. introdium

          mmmm... cga..Ega..or VGA!???

        4. Truckle The Uncivil

          Nah, but I still have the NEC APC H04 for which I paid nearly ten grand. WOW! A full 8086 with a sixteen bit bus. Even had a C compiler for it from Computer Innovations.

      3. Adrian Tawse

        Old - nothing

        And the first bit of kit I wrote for, as an employee, was a PDP8. The Commodore Pet was all the rage, and a bloody good piece of kit it was. Then came the IBM PC. It was total crap, but still my employer at the time bought one. It was universally hated.

    2. Arctic fox
      Windows

      @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

      In addition we also see that the smartphone market has been showing signs that it too is flattening out prior to serious slowdown (the first indications that mobes were affected as well as tablets and pcs started to appear about a year ago). Quite what is killing what I do not know other than it is quite obvious that refresh cycles for all these three types of shiny are getting longer and longer. I note that a certain section of our little congregation here at El Reg post regularly claiming that Win 10 is destroying the pc-market. I wonder what their explanation is for condition of the tablet and smartmobe markets? Given that the Demon Lords of Redmond have a low percentage market presense in both those areas. Something is definitely going on and whilst one can speculate about market saturation, commoditization and so on and so forth it is still somewhat of a puzzle.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

        I don't see it as a puzzle at all, the only thing that's going on is that the market is maturing. People know what these different gadgets can do and what they can use them for, and in many cases that is not sufficient to buy a new, more shiny, phone, or a tablet. In the past these things had novelty value or potential for new untapped use cases. This is not so much the case any more.

        Plus the technology curve is no longer so steep. A new device is not necessarily going to be a huge improvement on the old one.

        This already happened with PCs/laptops, irrespective of Win 10.

        1. alpine

          Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

          My Nexus 7 2013 is 2+ years old now. Works well, I see no reason to change. And replacements with the same video spec seem to cost silly money.

        2. Mellipop

          Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

          Not just Maturing but saturating and stagnating. Consumers crave novelty and the current products in both tablet and laptop formats are just 'meh'.

          Everyone who has a tablet sees no reason to upgrade.

          Google will merge android tablets and Chromebooks in Andromeda; a next generation cloud terminal with consumer applications in containers that can migrate between nodes depending on network availability and processing needs/cost.

          Devices will have two touch screens, one working as a soft keyboard and the other as a display. Or both can be used as a display.

          Single screen tablets and laptop will then suffer a final extinction.

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

          A new device is not necessarily going to be a huge improvement on the old one.

          Noted this in mobile phones. My current Samsung 4G phone is two years old, looking around for a replacement, I find that the broadly equivalent model (same platform chipset) retails at a higher price point...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

        Of course that makes it just the right time to introduce a new $600+ smartphone.

      3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

        "Something is definitely going on and whilst one can speculate about market saturation"

        Stuff is good enough, improvements are tiny, tablets last longer than phones, laptops under 1kg are commonplace.

        Google is having to differentiate its pixel phones with software; software upgrades are being used to sell phones and tablets. Win 10 has, it seems, failed to sell PCs. Short of deliberately introducing exploits into the wild that require a change to the latest hardware/software combination, what are West Coast mega-corporations supposed to do?

        1. Chris Parsons

          Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

          And I remember writing some of the OS for that ICL 1904S et al...

        2. Vince

          Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

          Trouble is that Google aren't going great guns with software - Android is a total mess, so them dabbling in hardware doesn't feel like it will end well.

          The only people who did a good job of hardware/software combinations were Blackberry (pretty much extinct because they took too long to get BB10 out and by then the ship had sailed on apps) and Apple (who are doing a better job on quality of hardware than specification/features now) and the software is often questionable - lack of choice, option, control etc, but have the app support in spades.

          Google makes a big deal about the Google Play Store being required as part of the certification process, yet can't be arsed to have the app store vetted for quality and malware-free content. Morons.

      4. Robert Baker
        Unhappy

        @Arctic fox, Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

        "I note that a certain section of our little congregation here at El Reg post regularly claiming that Win 10 is destroying the pc-market. I wonder what their explanation is for condition of the tablet and smartmobe markets?"

        Probably the fact that Google, in their infinite wisdom, have decreed that being able to save to a device's external SD card (and thereby do useful work on it) is somehow a "security risk". The fact that the Android OS even has such a setting is to my mind idiotic; but to have it enabled by default, and locked so that the end user cannot correct it (short of rooting the device), makes less sense than deliberately trying for a Darwin Award. You couldn't make it up.

        I know from experience (my first tablet was a Nexus 7) that it is not safe to buy a tablet which lacks an SD card slot, for any data saved to internal memory since you last backed-up the device is lost forever; and the other choices are to contend with the real security risk of cloud storage (not to mention the waste of internet connectivity; we don't all have so-called "unlimited" data) or to ignore Google's paranoia and decide to use my device in my way, not theirs. Even if there is some kind of risk in saving to an SD card, to my mind it's much less than the risks of the other two approaches, as outlined above.

        1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

          SD card storage and Android

          "Probably the fact that Google, in their infinite wisdom, have decreed that being able to save to a device's external SD card (and thereby do useful work on it) is somehow a "security risk". The fact that the Android OS even has such a setting is to my mind idiotic; but to have it enabled by default, and locked so that the end user cannot correct it (short of rooting the device), makes less sense than deliberately trying for a Darwin Award. You couldn't make it up."

          And I heartily agree with you.

          My current device, a Huawei T1-701U mediapad allows me the luxury to use my SD-card as storage, but if I upgrade my OS on that, I will not have that luxury anymore.

          That is the reason why I prefer a device with SD-card capability as you can store your data on the card. Device crashed/bricked solid? No fear, pop out the SD-card, pop it into another device and it is business as usual.

          SD card getting full? No sweat, procure a bigger one, copy all data over from old to new, and continue as usual.

          Any iThing? Sorry, you're out of luck. It is either upgrading (expensively) to any unit with larger internal storage or employing cloud storage (with additional $$$ expenses)

          Oh, by the way, I'm not in the mood to, neither do I have the funds available to, pay for extra $$$ expenses for cloud storage just to enable me to store more private documents/pictures/etc in the cloud (aka somebody else's computer). Any beancounter worth his salt will tell you that unnecessary overheads will continue to eat at your bottom line.

          So, give me a device with the ability to put all my apps and data on SD card, and I will use that product/device for a long time, thankyouverymuch.

          1. steamrunner

            Re: SD card storage and Android

            You're storing important stuff on (single) SD-card storage? Remind me how reliable that is, especially long-term, again??

            1. David Nash Silver badge

              Re: SD card storage and Android

              Ah well the good thing about SD cards is you can pop them out, create an image backup using a PC or something, and pop them back in again.

              Not so easy with a phone's internal storage.

              1. Patrician

                Re: SD card storage and Android

                "Not so easy with a phone's internal storage."

                It is though, just connect your phone to your PC and backup the data on the internal memory. Job done; I do this with my Nexus 6p once or twice a month.

            2. Robert Baker
              Flame

              Re: SD card storage and Android

              "You're storing important stuff on (single) SD-card storage? Remind me how reliable that is, especially long-term, again??"

              As opposed to the renowned superb reliability of relying on the device's internal storage, or on cloud storage (read: somebody else's computer)?

              As I already said, my first tablet was a Nexus 7 (no SD card slot and I didn't even have the option of cloud storage back then), and I lost several months' data when it failed without warning. Never again.

              As for cloud storage, I had already learned the hard way that one cannot trust a third party to store data; what if they go bust, or decide without warning that they no longer want to keep your stuff? (Both of which have happened to me.) Many a web site has been lost forever because the owner made the mistake of editing it online, instead of editing it on their computer and uploading the changes, which is what I did when I had a site.

          2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            Re: SD card storage and Android

            While I agree with your premise there is one thing wrong about iDevices

            You don't have to use iCloud to back up your device. you can do it using iTunes.

            Yes I know that iTunes is the sign of the devil but it can be used (provided you scatter the runes in the right way) to backup your iDevice. This saved my other half when her iPhone went through the washer. She backed it up to iTunes the day befofe.

            As for Google, don't they want to collect everything you do right down to the smallest detail inorder to feed the insatiable appetite of their AI?

            We all know about Slurp (aka Microsoft) sending data to all sorts of MS Owned IP addresses even if the IP is blocked in the hosts file, has Google followed suit with their latest OS?

            It would be interesting to know.

            If Alphabet has not done this the they could get a lot of Kudos by telling the world.

          3. Vince

            Re: SD card storage and Android

            "Probably the fact that Google, in their infinite wisdom, have decreed that being able to save to a device's external SD card (and thereby do useful work on it) is somehow a "security risk".

            ...the same google that doesn't have good security for android and still allows any old person to install any old crap on the Google Play Store. Thanks for helping us with that SD card risk though folks!

          4. MarkElmes

            Re: SD card storage and Android

            Strange, my Galaxy Tab S 10.5 on Marshmallow allows me to install apps to the SD Card without root

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: SD card storage and Android

            If you don't save it in Google's cloud, how are they going to be able to mine your data so they can sell more advertising?

        2. Robert Baker
          Facepalm

          Re: @Arctic fox, @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

          Oops, in the above I of course meant to say "...for when it inevitably fails, any data saved..."

      5. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

        At least smartphones (aka "mobiles", nowadays) get ruined constantly by our younger generations who don't care since the network provider has told them they will get a new "almost free" phone every couple of years. Not doing the sums, where you pay something like 500 pounds a year for the pleasure, helps keeping the wheels turning.

        Pay once a month, and just ignore it. Every provider's wet dream.

      6. RealBigAl

        Re: @RIBrsiq "I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC"

        Tech fatigue?

        I never thought the tablet killed the PC, the PC killed the PC by being good enough (for most users) not to need upgrading unless something actually broke on it. Similarly, nothing is new in phone, phablet or tablet land. these days, so if the old one is good enough why upgrade unless it's broken?

        What the market is waiting on/looking for is a something that is new and unique, or at least appears to be.

        Until then things will slowly slide.

        Wearables aren't there yet.Although I'm sure the next big thing is just around the corner.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      wasn't it....

      Supposed to run Windows, Mac OS (what ever version it was at the time) and AmigaOS if I recall*

      I always wanted to see just how good amigas could be with the powerPC chips, shame really.

      *I since took up drinking since that announcement so memory not guaranteed.

    4. largefile

      I remember when I used to show people how great the suction cup worked on my "desktop" pencil sharpener.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      " I remember a time when tablets were supposed to kill the PC."

      I remember when most computer manufactures would have been over the moon to sell anywhere near a 100,000 devices. Now we get articles implying that selling less than 10,000,000 might be a disappointment.

      "Vendors in third through fifth place – Lenovo, Huawei and Amazon – won't sell ten million units a year"

  3. Medixstiff

    Bugger, I was looking for a replacement for the old Nexus 7 (series 1) as it's a handy size to use in the car with Torque running. But it's starting to really run slow in general use let alone running apps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Me too

      Waiting to buy the RIGHT tablet. My Xperia tablet z3 is superb, now a few years old, and still awesome, but want to buy something newer. Chicken and egg situation, I'm not buying as vendors aren't making, as they have been told I don't want to buy...

      Whoever is brave enough to make the right product and the right money can clean up.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Me too

        Whoever is brave enough to make the right product and the right money can clean up.

        Won't be Dell or Lenovo. Back in 2014, Dell had an excellent tablet/portable AiO in the XPS-18 and Lenovo had the tablet/portable AiO/table AiO Horizon range. Both received good reviews and customer feedback, neither vendor made it easy to get hold of these products and neither have launched follow-up systems...

    2. cambsukguy

      How does it run slower? It has the same processor and RAM and storage.

      If you clean it up so the storage is not fragmented I would imagine it should run at exactly the speed it ran when you bought it.

      If you upgrade the OS, which should really be your choice since it is not a Win10 tablet, it ought to improve rather than get worse.

      The only time I recall a machine actually getting worse is PCs of the WinXP vintage (never had Vista). Windows 7 was perhaps less good than 10 (never had 8 either, on a PC at least). This excludes the laptop that runs slower because it overheats otherwise and even adding new heatsink compound didn't fix it - obviously not skilled enough to do it properly.

      My tablet is old and obsolete apparently but still runs apps etc. as zippily as I recall when I got it.

      My phone is too new to decide, it has possibly improved in battery life with updates and certainly hasn't slowed down.

      As for the 4-yr-old Lumia 920 I passed on, still not a peep about replacing it because of slowness.

      Does it have a Factory Reset? Perhaps it is worth doing.

      1. david bates

        IIRC they used poor quality memory chips which gradually fail. Whatever the actual reason S1 Nexus 7s slow down with age regardless of what OS you put on them. Mine has done exactly the same.

        1. Boothy

          Unfortunately dave bates is correct, the gen 1 Nexus 7's slow down over time, no matter what you do.

          I've wiped mine several times over the years, with fresh stock ROMs installed over USB rather than OTA, in order to really factory reset the device, but it was never the same after 5.0 was rolled out.

          I replaced the stock OS with Cyanogenmod a few months back, which gave it a little bit of a speed boost compared to the stock OS, but it's still quite sluggish to use and isn't really a nice experience anymore.

          I no longer use the Nexus 7 as an actual tablet (I have a newer device), so these days it just sits in a dock in the kitchen, with the audio output in the dock connected to a hi-fi system. So is basically just used as a music jukebox now.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Nexus7 2013 however is still a brilliant tablet, it's in daily use by the missus, no slowdown at all, still fast enough.,

          1. Gordon861

            +1 for another person waiting on a new tablet that is running stock Android so that it'll be updated (hopefully better than the v5 update on the Nexus7 though.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        some good suggestions there for speeding up a slowing tablet.

        I was going to suggest oil

      3. I am the liquor

        Getting slower

        I've had the same experience with a basic android tablet, and I blame it on application bloat. 3rd party apps and all the Google Play components update themselves and get bigger and heavier over time, as the devs expect everyone to have the latest, fastest processors.

        At one point Opera, to their credit, realised what they'd done and released an old version of their mobile browser as a separate "classic" edition, but I still found it slower than the first version of Opera Mobile that I'd originally installed on the device.

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Ryan.T.Student

      My Nexus 9 runs like crap. It's run like crap from the day I got it.

    4. David Beck

      My Lenovo A3000 just needed a factory reset and app reload to fix a similar slow down, also clean SD card. I found thousands of orphaned files on SD card. Appears Android not to tidy.

    5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Had the same issue with a Nexus 2012. It was so slow as to be next to useless.

      In despair I installed Cyanogenmod. And it was useful once more. No more slowdowns.

      Seems the culprit is the Dalvik cache, if you don't clear it out, it will lead to slowdowns over time, especially with OS upgrades.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm also looking for a replacement for my daughter's 7" tablet. It was an Asus MemoPad.

      I want something where the OS is going to get updates for at least the next couple of years - not stay locked in some buggy version of Android from 2013.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        "I want something where the OS is going to get updates for at least the next couple of years"

        It's called an "iPad".

        Just get a Mini 2 (retina display) second hand and be done with it. As fast as the Air 1, which is plenty fast.

    7. Zot

      How'bout an HP Spectre x360 13? - it turns into a tablet - woooooh.

  4. David Roberts Silver badge

    Slow refresh cycle

    For some reason there doesn't seem to be the same urge to upgrade every year or so that you see with phones.

    Presumably when we all decide to upgrade they will have stopped making them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slow refresh cycle

      Old joke punchline is often so true:

      "I must have told fifty people today - there's no call for them any longer"

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. cnell

          Re: Slow refresh cycle

          Not that it is important, but I believe the Yogi Berra quote was:

          "Toots Shor's restaurant is so crowded nobody goes there anymore."

          But I'm so old I might have forgotten why I'm posting this.

    2. Sureo

      Re: Slow refresh cycle

      "Stopped making them"

      Still runnin' and lovin' my netbook.

  5. Chands

    The tablet shares a completely different life cycle to a phone. Tablets aren't necessary, but they are really *handy* to have around. So once we have one, we're not going to replace it as often as a phone because it's a want not a necessity.

    I can carry it around the house with ease, look up recipes in the kitchen, google stuff on the couch, take it on holiday to keep connected, use it on long trips, for reading (kindle) or movies etc etc.

    And generally everyone in the house has a phone each but probably one tablet that's shared.

    I don't see tablets going away, I cannot see the benefit of a hybrid over a tablet with the above activities. When the activities on the tablet for example starting including work, then the hybrid starts making more sense.

    Google's hardware reveal didn't show a tablet, however there has enough in the rumour mill to believe that they will produce a merge Chrome / Android (Andromeda) OS, which will appear on a laptop / tablet ? The Pixel C .. is a lovely piece of kit and they might produce another 7" in the meantime, but personally, I'm currently curious for the new Andromeda OS.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Tablets aren't necessary, but they are really *handy* to have around. So once we have one, we're not going to replace it as often as a phone because it's a want not a necessity."

      The phone you have now may well be a necessity but it's doing its job. The phone you want next is just that - a want. Maybe a keener one than a tablet, but still only a want. It's marketing that's codding you into thinking it's a necessity.

    2. Chz

      I'll add that they're really great for kids, but that market is essentially split two ways - people with spare cash buy their kids iPads, and people tight on cash won't go more expensive than the late, lamented (by cheap people with kids) Tesco Hudl 2. Which my 6 year-old has been using for the past two years, and there *still* isn't a better value proposition on the market. I think the Nvidia Shield was pretty close, but that's out of production as well now.

      1. Cris E

        There are lots of options for kids if you go used. I just bought an Amazon Fire 7" off ebay for next to nothing ($20-30). It was a 2014 model and it does what they need. Stay a couple steps back from the cutting edge and you can find what you want, and if something happens go get another one.

        1. Rob Daglish

          Second hand Fire 7 for$20-$30? I bought my Mam one for her birthday brand new from Amazon for a shade over £30, so given the exchange rate, why bother with eBay?

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Beware the Hudl! Tesco, in their infinite wisdom, abandoned it completely.

        How to flush a massive success down the toilet.

        Guess flying those corporate biz jets take precedence.

    3. daemonoid

      I'd argue that modern tablets (not including my old handspring visor in this) came out when the tech was already relatively mature. I took the plunge at iPad 3 time and still use it to this day, the missus has some newer variation, but not once have I thought that it'd be worthwhile to upgrade. The tablet just still does the job.

      It's not the need / want, rather that I've bought a mature product for which newer generations offer little to no benefit. Much like the TV or the dishwasher - it'll get replaced when it breaks.

      Mobile phones have seemed to have a longer path to maturity, but I'd argue that they too are approaching the point of no innovation. I think we'll soon see the market there tail off as there's a united response of *meh* to the new offerings. Although, the 12-24 month contract/'free' upgrade cycle may prop them up for a little while longer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Much like the TV or the dishwasher - it'll get replaced when it breaks."

        Only to find that the new one has inferior performance and doesn't last as long as the old one.

        1. IT Poser

          That is what happens when we don't care about product quality

          In 1978(I may be off a year) product durability was removed from CPI calculations using the logic that customers purchase primarily on price alone and therefore durability isn't relevant. When the government can't understand that having to replace a product four times as often to get the same functionality increase the cost of the product what chance does the average consumer have?

          One of the biggest regrets I have, in purchasing consumer goods, was replacing the 1985 washer my parents gave me with a new 'efficient' model instead of replacing the motor. While the new machine is more efficient per load that is because I can only run small loads without something breaking. Since I am doing three times as many loads I use far more water and energy than the before. In six years I've already replaced three more parts than I did on the old one in 12 years(I replaced the belt).

          Note: Based on the sample size of one new and one old machine YMMV. I feel lucky to not have gotten a model that explodes easily.

          1. Diogenes

            Re: That is what happens when we don't care about product quality

            We had a drier given to us as a wedding present. Lasted 25 years. In the last 10 years replaced 2.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Not enough personally identifiable data on a tablet for Google

    It's just a thing that lies around the house for anyone to pick up and does light web browsing or works as media centre remote control.

    1. Mellipop

      Re: Not enough personally identifiable data on a tablet for Google

      You still need to log into a Google device; android tablet or chromebook.

      I suspect Google are preparing something similar to family accounts, like Amazon has with Kindle. That would make sense for their home products anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not enough personally identifiable data on a tablet for Google

        "I suspect Google are preparing something similar to family accounts, like Amazon has with Kindle."

        Have one of those accounts on my Kindle - shared with a friend when she goes on holiday. In spite of everything being apparently configured correctly for her Amazon user to be independent - every time she buys an e-book on the Kindle it gets charged to my card.

      2. Boothy

        Re: Not enough personally identifiable data on a tablet for Google

        @ Mellipop

        Quote: "You still need to log into a Google device; android tablet or chromebook..

        Not true for Android devices, at least not most I've used.

        I think Nexus devices do force you to log in with a Google account before you can use them, (and possibly some other manufacturers), but the non Nexus devices I've used (and Nexus devices where I've put stock Android on, or Cyanogenmod), let you skip that step during initial set-up, as it's not needed by Android itself, only by the Google services pre-installed on the device (Gmail, Play store etc.).

        You of course still need a Google account to use play store, sync contacts with GMail etc. But it's not needed to access the device itself.

        Different with Chromebooks of course, as that's intrinsically tied into the Google services (Drive, Docs etc.), and is basically a brick without an account (unless you replace the OS of course).

      3. flipside101

        Re: Not enough personally identifiable data on a tablet for Google

        Thats not strictly true as since Android 6 (possibly 5.11) both my phone and tablet (n5 and Sony z2) have had a guest account option and indeed teh setup allows you to skip all account details . But yes if you want to use services you need to login.

        Google also already has a family account that allows the sharing of apps etc etc

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Andromeda

    The next iteration of the Pixel-C needs to be running Andromeda - and it looks like thats not ready. Tablet and notebook are kind of interchangable now anyway - at least at the 10" screen point, if you have a bluetooth keyboard.

    I only detatch the keyboard on my Pixel-C maybe 5% of the time - it comes in too handy as a stand, but I still call it a tablet...

    1. Mellipop

      Re: Andromeda

      I agree. You can run some Android apps on Chromebooks now. The number of apps and Chromebooks that can do it is increasing - go and look at chromium.org

      I suspect Google see an infrastructure that is founded on a language that a litigenous sunset database company is not worth maintaining. Google have two languages that could be used for apps; Dart & Go.

      Google also have the AI smarts to rebuild most existing apps, libraries and SDKs onto new runtimes; they did it moving from Dalvik to ART.

      I suspect Andromeda is waiting for a migration toolset and then they can say to devs; "use whatever language you want"

      Google will not exit the tablet market. 5-6" for phones, 7-10" for tablets. Most people do not need keyboards. Otherwise we'd have three rows of fingers.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple reason...

    ...phones are nearly on contract with 18 month cycles. So every 18 months, the gullible get a new "free" upgrade, despite there being nothing wrong with the old one.

    Tablets are bought and are usually replaced when they break, although I've fixed 5 hudls for people so far (USB port breaks,easy fix)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple reason...

      Heaven (other theist locations are available) help the phone manufacturers if the person-in-the-street was told clearly by their mobile operator "You can now have a upgrade to your phone, or keep with your current one and your monthly payments will drop by about £15"

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Simple reason...

      USB port breaks,easy fix

      Is now the parts are readily available from reputable outlets.

      Shame the same can't be said of the now discontinued Hudl, because it was a good platform at the price point that could perform the filofax function...

  9. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Surely sales have slowed simply because of saturation, and as stated by others, we upgrade our phones which we have on us all day, so the tablet is for casual use. I still have a Tesco Hudl v1, and it suffices for a bit of web browsing on the sofa.

    New features on my phone are nice, the nags from the step counter, the heart rate monitor, but I don't need these features on a tablet, as I'm not going to lug a 7" screen around when I go for a jog.

  10. steelpillow Silver badge

    Desperate to replace my defunct Nexus 7 + bluetooth keyboard. Reduces my phone needs to an unhackably simple old Nokia brick with massive battery life and my PC needs to an "I've got a COMFORTABLE keyboard and monitor" desktop. Maybe the new "Android/Chrome fusion" will be put on something usable. Please?

  11. Blacklight

    Already said above, but the Pixel-C is a lovely bit of kit (although I can recommend NOT dropping it, as whilst the screen survived, trying to 'undent' the metal case is challenging!)

    I've got a Nexus 7 (2013), which won't go beyond Android 6, and is a bit slow, but it's used for some games, and principally a baby monitor (IP Cam viewer) at night.

    The Pixel-C is just a joy to use when you CBA with a phone. A bit heavy, but sometimes heft is good.

    I was considering a Pixel Phone to replace the 5X, but £599 or £820? They're having a giraffe.

    1. Boothy

      I've had a few Nexus devices, last one being the Nexus 5 (original). They always seemed to be a reasonable spec, at a reasonable price, without being messed with by carriers and manufacturers.

      But now, the last Nexus devices, and the new Pixels, just seem expensive to me!

      So last July (when my Nexus 5 finally died on me) I decided to go somewhere else, and bought a OnePlus 3 instead for £328.99, and have been very happy with it.

      The OnePlus 3 seems very comparable with the Pixel XL for screen size, CPU etc. With many things being better on the OnePlus.

      The only real + for the Pixel, being that the OnePlus 3 is 'only' a 1080p screen, compared to the Pixel XL being a 1440p, but that to me is irrelevant, I've done direct comparisons with other 1440p screens, and personally, I really can't tell the difference on a screen this size! But then I don't have perfect (not even close) eyesight.

      OnePlus also don't seem to mess with the OS much, a few tweaks, such as enabling customisation of the pull down area (data/wifi/NFC on/off etc.), controlling the LED colour (for notifications, battery state etc), and the few apps they pre-load, can be ignored, nothing is forced on you. It also gets the monthly security patches from Google.

      Oh yes, is dual-sim as well, which is handy for some people.

  12. batfastad

    Netbooks

    I always really liked netbooks. Fair enough, the early netbooks were pretty dodgy. 7" screens with gigantic bezels, CF cards masquerading as SSDs, weird screen resolutions, custom Linux OS that would never be updated etc.

    I bought a 10" Asus 1005HA-P, 4GB RAM, Atom processor, 2.5" HDD, 10+ hr battery life and just over 1Kg in mass. Rocked that thing for years, perfect for travelling, cheap enough to be considered disposable, expensive enough to have a bit of grunt, ran a full OS (albeit Win XP) so could actually get stuff done in GIMP/Office/text editors etc. I could never see the advantage in a tablet over that netbook.

    It died after 4 years of hard travel. I moved on. Asus Zenbook and now a slightly larger Dell XPS 15 with dedicated graphics. Bought an Android tablet which gets chucked around by the kids but I have never felt the need for a tablet. An ultrabook and phone do the job for me.

    1. Mole5000

      Re: Netbooks

      I loved the eee901, I used one for years to do dev work on the train until i's battery went and keyboard packed in then bought a unused one second hand and slapped Lubuntu on it and it is still going strong to this day.

      Intel and Microsoft teaming up to strangle the Netbook market was one of the stupidest, most short sighted things they ever did.

      1. ROC

        Re: Netbooks

        That could be remedied by installing Linux on the smaller 2-in-1's (11.6 and less), but most of them with Atom CPU's have 32-bit UEFI (even though running 64-bit capable Atom's), and most Linux distro's I have checked do not support that, rather they assume 64-bit UEFI only. Even if that can be worked around (see following), they tend to have wonky hardware not well-supported by most distros such as with touchscreen/orientation, wifi, power management, and audio.

        I have been able to install Mint and Ubuntu on some Dell's that are fully 64-bit, so it can be done, but the core M and i3/5/7 models tend to cost more, such as my 10.8-inch 1080p touchscreen Dell Venue Pro 11. However the slower Celeron models are cheaper, and I was able to get a heavily discounted sale-priced low-end 11.6" non-touch screen Dell Inspiron with a Celeron running 64-bit Win 10, and thus 64-bit UEFI. Ironically, both Dell's also allow setting to a legacy ROM mode to bypass UEFI completely for simpler 32-bit Linux installations.

        The Venue Pro is a bit heavy for a 11-inch tablet, as compared to something like my Lenovo Miix 10 2 2-in-1, and its battery-keyboard almost doubles that weight (2kg+), but it is a very powerful "enhanced Netbook" successor that runs Mint 18 (Ubuntu 16.04-based) well, compared to the Miix, which is pretty much restricted to running Windows 8/10 (although it does run Lubuntu 14.04 in Virtual Box tolerably well, and the 1920x1200 screen is a lot nicer than the typical 10-inch 1366x768 hybrid tablets). Despite its heft with the keyboard (which actually improves stability when typing), the Venue Pro is still small enough to be easily packed and carried as with older netbooks.

  13. Big_Boomer

    I bought a Galaxy Note 10.1 (2Gb RAM, 16Gb Flash + 64Gb SD) about 2½ years ago and it's still going strong although still on 4.12 due to Samsung deciding not to upgrade Android on it. Paid £320 for it and at the time it was high end for a 10" tablet. It gets used every single day for email, web browsing, social media, news, weather, shopping, games, and even some techy stuff. When it dies or can no longer cope with the size of the bloatware loaded on it, I will upgrade to a top-ish spec tablet but not before. Currently I would expect to replace it with a 10" with 4Gb RAM, 64Gb Flash but all of those are IMHO overpriced. Phone screens are too small for most of what I do on it but tablets are too big to be lugging around. My phone is a Moto G (3rd gen) and mostly does phone/text duty as well as SatNav, car/headphone music player with occasional web browsing/email/weather/games if I am out and about. Phone gets replaced when the contract expires, Tablet when I need to replace it.

    1. Syntax Error

      You do realise that using Android 4.1.2 is a security risk if you are accessing e-mail for example.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        So is whatever you're using; you've just never heard about that vulnerability. Yet.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      "...about 2½ years ago and it's still going strong although still on 4.12 due to Samsung deciding not to upgrade Android on it. Paid £320 for it.."

      Now, what's wrong with the quoted text?

      Anyone?

  14. flipside101

    The whole event was about Stuff Google designed and built, the rumours are that the next 7" tablet was the last of the nexus style collaborations so we may see info on this as just a product update via press release

  15. Richard Lloyd

    Tablet specs have plateaued

    The last widescreen tablet Google produced was the Nexus 10 way back in November 2012 (I don't count the disappointment that was the Nexus 9, because 4:3 doesn't cut it for videos/gaming). To succeed the Nexus 10, I picked up a Galaxy Tab S 10.5" which has a sweet display (sorry, the 4:3 of the Tab S2 again is an epic fail and with a lower resolution!) and I suspect still represents pretty well the peak of Android tablets (certainly w.r.t. the display at least) and it's over 2 years old.

    I've not seen any tablet in the last 2 years that significantly improves on what I've got and that's the real problem with the tablet market - each generation is only making small improvements on the previous one, so people are hanging onto their tablets for longer and hence the falling sales.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Tablet specs have plateaued

      A 4:3 screen ratio might be crap for gaming but for reading books using a Kindle App, it is perfect.

      I've stuck with Apple (iPad mini 1) because of this. It only goes online to download new purchases.

      Horses for courses perhaps?

  16. MJI Silver badge

    Actually I am considering a tablet

    Not had one before but I can see a use.

    Download OS maps onto one, takes up a lot less room than my paper ones.

    Quick web surfing away from PC.

    Any recommendations?

    My idea of a premium brand may be different to yours. Don't really want Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually I am considering a tablet

      Given this is from Ordnance Survey website

      "Windows phone/tablet users may find that some touchscreen devices are inaccurate when doing route planning due to issues with the touch location detection.

      For Android and Apple phones and tablets you we recommend the OS Maps app."

      looks like not worth recommending a cheapish Win 10 tablet like the Linux.

    2. Nick Pettefar

      Re: Actually I am considering a tablet

      iPad Mini. Minimum 32GB. Cheap and wonderful. Too expensive for you then get a used one. They only go wrong when people physically break them.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Actually I am considering a tablet

        Try your local Pawn/Cash converters shop. You'd be surprised what bargains you can get and you don't pay the Apple premium.

        Got an iPhone 5s for £90 a month or so back. Runs IOS 10 as well.

        Ye, sI know this is an Android thread. You can get decent deals on Android (mostly Samsung) phablets and real tablets as well but make sure you understand what software updates are available (if any) for the device before parting with cash. Apple make it easy (relatively) to check what software will run on any device. You just put the serial number into a webpage and they tell you.

        I'm just pointing out a place where tier 1 devices can be legally obtained at a fraction of the original cost.

        1. ROC

          Re: Actually I am considering a tablet

          Big problem with used tablets is unknown battery life. From what I have read on iFixit, and other such sites, iPads and Surfaces can be hellish for battery replacement due to the battery being glued in, and requiring deft heatgun/hairdryer use to remove without breaking various parts in close proximity. Samsungs I have not looked up.

          FWIW, I have an LG 7-inch with AT&T LTE (unlocked to work with T-Mobile's 200MB "free lifetime" data plan, which is ok when in range of their towers), and have been able to open it up to see that the battery looks relatively easy to replace - if you can find one.

          Getting the iPads refurbished by Apple may well be worth the extra cost for the new battery that process is supposed to include, as I understand it - INVESTIGATE!

  17. rcp27

    Phones live in pockets

    I think a big reason phones have a faster refresh cycle is that they live in a harsher environment. People are more likely to physically damage their phones through routine use and abuse. Also when a phone battery decays to no longer lasting a whole day people are likely to replace it. As tablets get less frequent use overall and have bigger batteries to start with, battery decay is slower and less noticeable.

  18. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Ok...

    This Article covered Tablets.... (Which for me would likely be anything north of Eight Inches.), What I would be more interested in knowing is, is there still a Market for Phablet? Which is my preferred format. Though it might be a waste asking for this from the Chocolate Factory, as they never actually bothered to address this Segment. Which is why Samsung pretty much has a lock on that Segment. Since I'd have yet to find another OEM/ODM that could actually beat Samsung at that game. And Apple would not ever need apply.

  19. DeliberatusFreeman

    You forgot a brand

    Um, toss amazon Kire stats into the analysis and cook the books again old sod, THEN tell me who ranks where.

    We need a new Nexus 7.The fire is too damn intrusive with the advertising, just a tad bit TOO 'helpful'.

    -Kirk

  20. Byham

    Cost Benefit

    Phones, Tablets and a lot of PCs are consumer items. The cost of a new tablet or smart phone is now more than the cost of many desk top PCs and sometimes twice the price of a laptop. Consumers will need a lot of persuading to ditch a device that is working and move to another that costs so much as there is no matching benefit to them in doing so.

    There has also been an intentional convergence so that a smart phone 'phablet' can now do much of the work of a tablet and a laptop and run almost the same software applications. So manufacturers should expect that the market for all these devices would shrink possibly to less than a third of the market when they were standalone devices that had distinct and separate.applications and usage. For that matter the market in low end digital cameras has crashed as the cameras in smart phones have taken over.

  21. Fenton

    Reasons I hardly ever use a tablet and won't upgrade

    1) Kids keep taking it and whenever I'd like to use it it is out of charge

    2) Still able to run all my apps without much slowdown after OS upgrades

    3) Not a SIM enabled model so pretty useless when out and about unless I tether with phone

    4) I always have my phone on me, which is usually charged and can do everything on that

    5) Tablet screen is still too small to watch a movie and sound is crap (I don't always want to wear headphones)

    So yes it's a nice to have but no need to upgrade every couple of years.

  22. Colin Tree

    who cares

    our 3 tablets are in a cupboard, somewhere, who cares

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: who cares

      Post them here. We'll find a use. :)

  23. itzman
    Big Brother

    I've been waiting.....

    Until the reasons to buy either a smartphone or a tablet became overwhelming...

    I am still waiting...

  24. ROC

    Battery is Main Replacement Factor

    As most tablets do not have "user replaceable" batteries, when they wear out, it can be more cost effective to buy a new, or at least refurbished tablet (mostly where iPads are concerned?).

    From teardowns I have read on sites such as iFixit, iPads and Surfaces can be hellish battery replacement jobs since they are glued in, and require deft heatgun/hairdryer application to remove without breaking adjacent parts and/or the screen.

    2-3 years seems to be the typical lifespan of the commonly used lithium-ion batteries although that is dependent on usage/recharging practices to some degree. I have gotten by with some older tablets (and phones used as such) just kept on a charger all the time, but even that can become problematic if the battery starts to swell as old, Li-Ion batteries will tend to do. Then they become those fire/explosion hazards that the Samsun Note 7's have become notorious for.

  25. captain_solo

    "You guys are kids. I remember when Moses came down from the mountain with TWO tablets. The TOS were pretty heavy, too."

    Unfortunately those early models only had WORM drives and the screens were prone to shattering when they were dropped or thrown at drunken revelers, those were the days...

  26. davenewman

    Pixel C is fairly new

    Since the Pixel C tablet came out not long ago, why would Google announce another new tablet? The whole article is drawing conclusions from a minor difference in the design and release cycles of phones and tablets in one company. I got a Pixel C with a developer discount, for testing Android 7 before it came out. It is that new.

  27. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    Guess I'm behind the curve as usual

    Awww. And I just got this Nexus 7... Happens it doesn't do what I got it for, but turns out it's nicer for reading tech web sites and e-books than my phone and more portable than my laptop for Netflix. These ageing eyes appreciate the larger screen.

    I can live without it but I'm glad I got it anyway.

    (2nd generation, so I get updates through Marshmallow without having to root it. Which was the original point.)

  28. Chika
    Trollface

    Oh joy.

    A few years ago, when tablets were on the up and everyone was predicting that tablets were the next big thing and would kill the PC, I said that tablets were a fad.

    I remember saying so quite clearly.

    More than once.

    This is me in smug mode.

  29. Adrian Tawse

    Tablets

    I do remember hearing a story about Bill Gates and tablets. I have never heard it repeated, so maybe I have it wrong. There was two projects going on at Microsoft, both aimed at the touch interface. One was much like the iPad, hardware and software, and was ready to go to production. The other was software only and, I believe, was the genesis of Win 8. Bill had just one question, will it run Office,The answer for the first project was no, for the second it was yes. The first was canned. But for that decision I believe Microsoft could have seriously challenged Apple. As it was Microsoft missed the boat with crap software, released in a hurry, for a market that had long disappeared.

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