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The folks over at Gartner conducted a good-sized survey this year, in conclusion, only 17 percent of respondents plan to purchase a tablet in the next 12 months.

19,000 consumers were surveyed across the U.S., UK, France, China, Brazil and India during May and June of 2015.

Two-thirds of households own a tablet

Looking a little closer at the numbers, the survey explains that more than two-thirds of consumer households already own a tablet, at least in the U.S., and more than 25 percent of households have more than one tablet. With 48 percent of respondents claiming that they do not plan to replace a device until they absolutely have to, a 17 percent purchase intention rate leads us to think that people are happy with their current tablets, but are they?

Preferred computing devices

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Smartphones have gradually become more capable and have hit the market with larger and larger displays in the last year or so. Where a 5-inch display was once considered to be a large device, a modern 5-inch screen often elicits feelings of budget and low-end production. With phones now commonly found in the the 5.5-inch and larger form-factor, consumers that once employed a two-device approach, including their phone and a 7-inch tablet, are now finding a tablet to be redundant to their 5.5-inch up to – as large as 7-inch phone as is.

While we are talking mostly of mature markets here, emerging markets are even less inclined to purchase a WiFi only tablet device. Without the free WiFi found in shops on every street corner, a WiFi only tablet serves little use as compared to a cellular connected phone.

Consumers do not know what to purchase next

Perhaps the most profound conclusion that Gartner reaches based on their survey: consumers don’t know what to purchase next. Despite showing that 65 percent of PC users plan to stick with a PC and 46 percent with their laptops, Gartner believes that users needs are not being met by current device offerings.

Hybrid devices like the newly announced Microsoft Surface Pro 4, iPad Pro or Google’s Pixel C demonstrate a melding of tablets and laptops. These devices are mostly larger than your typical tablet computer, coming in with 12-13-inch displays, they come with attached keyboards, and input such as touchpads and smart stylus.

With the plethora of computing form factors available, consumers are finding it an easy decision to purchase a highly capable smartphone, and continue with traditional-styled laptop and PC devices. From there, however, the large phones and excellent hybrid devices leave many uncertain as to what device they should purchase next.

Who wants a tablet?

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I recently wrote of my thoughts and frustrations on the dying 7-inch tablet market. With the numbers above providing context to what we already knew, it is not hard to see why manufacturers are not giving tablets their full attention. However, speaking for the 17 percent of us looking for a new tablet, I find there is a shortage of great devices to choose from, despite the flooding of low-end 7-inch tablets on the market.

In the end, Gartner believes that household penetration of tablets will drop below 40 percent. Hybrid devices, on the other hand, offer up the best of both world, providing the portability and battery life of a tablet with the functionality and productivity of a laptop, we’re all interested to see where they get to.

Are you still a fan of tablets, or have you moved on to a large smartphone and improved laptop or hybrid device?

This article originally appeared on our partner site TabTimes.

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Press release

Gartner Survey Shows 17 Per Cent of Consumers Plan to Purchase a Tablet in the Next 12 Months

Survey of 19,000 Consumers Studied Personal Technology Purchase Intentions

STAMFORD, Conn., 5th November, 2015 — As the slowdown in purchases of personal technology continues, a recent Gartner, Inc. survey found that 17 per cent of consumer respondents in mature markets intend to buy a tablet in the next 12 months. This will force strategic leaders to reassess market opportunities in this category, as basic and utility ultramobile upgrade rates could fall by 10 per cent through 2016.

 

The survey, which was conducted in May and June 2015, surveyed 19,000 consumers in the US, UK, France, China, Brazil and India.

 

“Tablet innovation is driven by applications rather than by the hardware. However, most applications work pretty well with first- and second-generation tablet hardware, and because the operating system (OS) can be upgraded for free, the user is not compelled to change the device,” said Meike Escherich, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Users are less interested in the hardware and more interested in the applications and how devices using the cloud can interact with each other.”

 

The survey found that less than one in five users in mature markets are planning to purchase or upgrade a tablet. The penetration of tablets has reached more than 66 per cent of households in the US, with more than 25 per cent of households having two or more tablets.

 

“Unless new compelling innovation or incentives to upgrade tablets are created, the churn of the mature installed base will continue to fall,” said Ms Escherich. “The worst-case scenario is that many tablet users will never upgrade or buy a new tablet as phablets and/or two-in-one convertible PCs (both with larger screen) envelop the benefits of a tablet. This scenario would result in real household penetration for tablets falling under 40 per cent in mature markets.”

 

In emerging markets, the penetration of tablets is lower and filled with many lower-cost tablets. In these markets, tablets need to complement smartphones. However, the availability of Wi-Fi connectivity is limited, and cellular-connected tablets are as expensive as entry-level smartphones with screen sizes larger than 5.5 inches.

 

“We believe that smartphone demand will split into two screen sizes: 5 inches, and 5.5 inches and larger (defined as a phablet),” said Ms Escherich. “Consumers choose between these two based on their device preference and lifestyle. Some consumers prefer smartphones at 5 inches or smaller for better portability. Others will opt for phablets for a more compelling mobile content consumption experience, finding little benefit in owning a 7-inch tablet that lacks phone capability. Some may choose 5.5 inches and larger if they tend to carry bags, while some may prefer 5 inches and smaller if they want to put their device in their pockets. Some budget-constrained consumers will prefer single-device ownership and will choose phablets as combining the best of both worlds.”

 

Overall, Gartner’s consumer survey findings indicate that 48 per cent of respondents do not want to replace a device until they absolutely have to. The purchasing process itself has become more complex, and consumers now have to prioritise which computing device is most important to them. About half of the survey respondents plan to remain loyal to their current form factor, especially desktops (65 per cent) and standard laptops (46 per cent). However, the survey showed that consumers seem increasingly uncertain about what device should replace their existing device, which points to users’ wants and needs not being clearly met by current product offers as overlapping offers make the decision process increasingly complicated.

 

“Opportunities appear in the form of hybrids. Demand for this two-in-one form factor is generated by tablet owners and standard laptop users. The dissatisfaction with standard laptops comes from issues around battery life, weight and boot up times. Others see the versatility of a hybrid meeting the needs of a tablet and a notebook, especially with the benefit of a keyboard,” said Ms Escherich. “It appears the traditional PC is no longer a compromised device compared with tablets or even smartphones and appeals to consumers in a new, more versatile form factor.”

 

More detailed analysis is available in the Gartner report “Notebook, Tablets, Hybrids, Phablets —Strategic Planners Need to Know What Devices Consumers Plan to Buy.”

 

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. The company delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner to clients in approximately 10,000 distinct enterprises worldwide. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, USA, and has 7,100 associates, including more than 1,500 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 90 countries. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.

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