Tablet sales have been predicted to slow for some time, but the latest data from Forrester Research suggests that sales have finally hit a plateau. It seems that consumers might be falling out of love with the little portable computers.
Following a sharp rise to popularity over the past few years, growth expected to decline to less than 50 million units over the next four years. This plateau can apparently be attributed to a number of factors. Forrester suggests that a combination of market saturation, falling prices and the rise of phablet smartphones are to blame.
Apparently the growth in 5-inch and larger display smartphones has made an impact on tablet sales, as consumers look for substitute devices that can fulfill both rolls. The data states that 41 percent of workers use a 5-inch or larger smartphone and 11 percent of respondents using a tablet indicated that they were in fact using a larger smartphone to meet their tablet needs.
To makes its case, Forrester points out that 4.5 million Galaxy Note 4 units were shifted in its first month, while Samsung’s tablet sales fell by 5 percent in Q2.
The market is also full of sub $200 products that offer consumers everything they need for their tablet experience. Enough processing power for web browsing, checking up on social media and watching the occasional video doesn’t have to come in an expensive package
Furthermore, there have been few must have new tablet features to drive strong sales of devices in the $500 price bracket. Combined with the growth in larger handsets, consumer tablet refresh cycles are substantially slower than that of smartphones.
The report does point out one remaining avenue of growth in the tablet market – business. Forrester’s data indicates that around 29 percent of businesses provide tablets for use at work. Lenovo has apparently already been one of the winners from this trend, as it has focused on providing productivity solutions and larger displays suitable for work purposes.
Of course, a slowdown in sales doesn’t indicate that consumers are dumping their tablets, just that many are quite happy with what they already own. The global tablet install base is expected to rise to a substantial 800 million consumers by 2018 and should reach 1 billion sometime after 2020.