back to article It's been two and a half years of decline – tablets aren't coming back

Tablet sales have once again fallen, as the market logged its tenth consecutive quarter of decline. Research firm IDC said on Thursday that the 8.5 per cent drop in shipments year-over-year means that it has now been two and a half years since the tablet market saw any sort of positive growth. In the past three months, all but …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It would help if the manufacturers made what people wanted, rather than what they think will sell.

    I see no point in changing my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) because it does everything I want it to. If they came up with a 12" unit with the same, or better, specs then I might think about it. It would need the precision of the S-Pen as well as having a standard touch interface. Yes I would like to be able to use a larger SD card but that is not the end of the world.

    1. PeterGriffin
      Thumb Up

      I have exactly the same tablet and haven't upgraded for exactly the same reason. The only factor that would sway for a newer replacement is being able to use a newer instance of Android and to know I'm covered by security updates. But there's a Cyanogenmod if I need a newer Android...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Weird, as my tablet (sony xperia z3 compact) is my main device about the home, it was a superb buy, and now over 2 years old, i would buy something to replace it, but until Sony make a updated model, i won't buy anything else.

      Manufacturers need to be brave, make a compelling device and users will buy it, but if they do the make it, well that's where we are now.. I wouldn't buy apple or Samsung offerings, and the only others are supermarket tat.

      1. WylieCoyoteUK

        I agree, I have an Xperia Z2 10" tablet, still works well, does what I need, why would I replace it?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        People Not Buying != People Not Using.

        That's what manufacturers need to understand.

    3. itzman

      re: what people wanted, rather than what they think will sell.

      Apple, purveyors of ill engineered solutions I never knew I didn't want, to problems I never knew I didn't have.

    4. Infernoz Bronze badge

      I think this is a symptom of the vapid retardation caused by 'social' media and texts on mobiles, so less use of better quality media.

      I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10+" (1st edition, WiFi), with a 128GB micro-SD, which I mainly use for reading e-books, watching some HD video files, with a little LibreOffice (port) use. I regard around 300DPI and a high capacity micro-SD slot as compulsory for easy reading of many ebooks and magazines. e-paper didn't scale, I regard 1080p or less as stagnant, and have no interest in spy tablet's like Amazon's.

      I think it would be useful to have multiple touch-tablets, like on Star Trek Next Generation and other sci-fi, linked to a common/distributed store, and displaying different books and/or different views of the same book, all with separate remembered positions, but shared bookmarks.

      Mobiles, even stupidly huge ones are not physically large enough to easily read even paperback size pages, let-alone A4 size or facing pages of picture/reference books/magazines, and 1080p+ ones are too damned expensive and a bit pointless if you can't see most of the detail.

      Laptops are not a practical alternative because many still don't even have 1080p screens, let-alone M2/SSD and 4K, at least not at an affordable price, are too bulky/heavy, and a desktop OS can be worse than useless for a media device.

      Even desktops should be standardising on much larger and affordable 4K screens to completely hide pixelation, and so that more content and detail can be comfortably viewed; multiple laptop/desktop screens are often just a hack to work-around prior display size and GPU resolution limitations.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Further to making what punters want. What about what us techies want...if it doesnt gain traction with the nerds it doesn't get recommended.

      All ive ever wanted is control over my device. There are tools out there that will easily run on Android but the tablet makers wont let me use them. Therefore, fuck em.

    6. Professor Clifton Shallot

      > If they came up with a 12" unit with the same, or better, specs

      >then I might think about it. It would need the precision of the

      >S-Pen as well as having a standard touch interface.

      I have a Galaxy Note Pro 12 which sounds like exactly what you are looking for.

  3. Jim Willsher

    Last year I replaced my iPad 4 with an iLatest iPad. Now I find myself using it very infrequently it's far easier to grab a laptop and a mouse than it is to faff around using finger gestures.

    Wish I'd saved the ££££.....

    1. Mark 65

      Like you I recently replaced an iPad (version 2) with a newer model, but only because the former broke. Given it was a 2011/12 purchase and was only replaced due to breakage the device had good longevity. Hence, it is only logical that sales would decline over time once a saturation point was reached.

      Although I agree that a laptop can be better to use, the iPad wins for keeping the kids occupied and not taken up so much space/weight.

  4. Dwarf

    Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

    When will sales and marketing people wake up to the fact that there is not a limitless market of people who either have the disposable income or are prepared to pay more and more and more for their tat.

    We buy things because we want them and haven't already got one. I purchased a hammer 20 years ago and will probably pass it on when I'm gone. Socks, OK they may well wear out, but only get replaced when they have to. Tablet PC's, mobile phones, etc - only replaced when there is nothing better to get such as a holiday, new car, new socks.

    What are tablets really used for web browsing and e-mail on the move, definitely not Fakebook or some random calorie counting spy-on-me with their "lack of privacy policy" application that thinks that I really really need it..

    Hint to sales and marketing people

    My hammer doesn't need to report back on what sort of nails I'm banging in or what my nail to thumb hitting ratio is, so drop the spyware type bolt-ins and "analytics" on everything I do with my stuff in my life and I realise that I spend my money on things I actually need and only when there is nothing better to spend that money on. You flooded the market with devices, now you need to realise that the market is full, except for breakages and the like.

    Its not exactly rocket science is it *

    * Rocket science - take tube, bang one end closed, fill with propellant, light, stand well back.

    1. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

      Dwarf proposed, "We buy things because we want them and haven't already got one."

      What's "already got one" have to do with it? ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

      Buying things because you need them is a pre-capitalist mindset.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

        I wish people wouldn't say 'capitalist' when they mean 'consumerist'

        Consumerism was a way to increase the apparent wealth of the citizen by engaging him in production marketing and consumption of - as opposed to tractors in the Ukraine - Iphones in e.g. China.

        It is and was a crude attempt to solve the problems introduced by mechanisation: what to do to keep the people busy and distracted, now their labour is replaced by machines.

        Make them keep on buying stuff. And make it rubbish so it breaks and they have to replace it, and make it rubbish so you can sell them training courses and support to tell them how to 'use' it. And if that fails to ensure they replace it, introduce legislation outlawing its continued use. Think diesel car scrappage. Diesels: Mandated by law practically that we all buy one, now mandated by law that we will get rid of them and replace with petrol.

        Cui Bono? car manufacturers.

        No analogue TV?

        get a digital set.

        No internet TV?

        get a smart TV.

        The onward march of pointless progress for its own sake, as evinced by 'progressive, liberal, socialists seeking justice.'

        Never mind justice. How about happiness and life quality? Sadly the most enjoyable thing, to throw a stick for a dog whose genuine enjoyment of retrieving it is totally infectious, does not feature on anyone's economic plan.

        I'd rather gave a Jack Russell than a fondleslab any day. Its cheaper and although its has a high ongoing cost of ownership, it does a lot more for my life quality.

        1. Bloodbeastterror

          Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

          "Never mind justice. How about happiness and life quality?"

          Why do you state it as if they are mutually exclusive, rather than all three being linked? If you live in unjust conditions, you have poor life quality and can't be more than superficially happy.

          Cases: North Korea, where people live in fear but put their best face on it; the US, where there is such anger in the population that they choose a neon buffoon just to stick it to The Man.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC re: dogs.

          Instead of throwing a stick for the dog to fetch, why not catapult the pooch into the duck pond? It's MUCH more enjoyable what with listening to the sqwaks of terror from surprised ducks, the high gleefull yipping from the dog as it reaches high velocity in a ballistic arc, & the inevitable splash when it reaches the other end. Then there's the mad flurry of wings as the ducks try to escape, the furious splashing as the dog tries to catch ducks, & the gut splitting laughter at the indescribable hilarity of it all. By the time your dog gets back, even if it HASN'T caught a duck, it will be MORE than happy to do it all again. My dog likes to wear motorcycle goggles when I fling him, it keeps his eyes from watering so he can see to make final course calculations. =-D

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC re: dogs.

            "It's MUCH more enjoyable what with listening to the sqwaks of terror from surprised ducks, the high gleefull yipping from the dog as it reaches high velocity in a ballistic arc"

            What's the atmospheric re-entry speed of a dog? And how gleeful will it be as as its arse and dangly bits get ablated by a plasma cloud?

            Although if we're talking ghastly, yappy rats lie Jack Russells, then I'm with you 110%.

            1. acid andy

              Re: @AC re: dogs.

              "What's the atmospheric re-entry speed of a dog?"

              African or European?

              1. Wensleydale Cheese

                Re: @AC re: dogs.

                "What's the atmospheric re-entry speed of a dog?"

                African or European?

                Anecdotal evidence only. My Labrador* was a lot faster into the water than next door's Rhodesian Ridgeback.

                * Yes, I know that Labradors originated from over the pond, but they were bred into their present form over here.

        3. Infernoz Bronze badge

          Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

          The deceptive Janus of Capitalism and Communism was created in the 18th century by very greedy, evil, rentier parasites to cause spiritual corruption like consumerism (excessive/vapid purchasing), to pillage yet more 'wealth'. Debt fiat (violence) currency 'money', further corrupted by compounding interest (exponential usury), fractional reserve banking (legalised embezzling and fraud), and even worse leverage fraud is their evil dead capital. The authorisation by governments to corrupt the originally limited time and purpose of public corporations to privately owned, unlimited zombie psychopathic entities further helped these devils; these same entities later re-purposed Edward Bernays "Propaganda" work (deceitful manipulation based of Freud's evil sabotage) as public relations, marketing, advertising etc.

          Real capital is in living things like cattle, seeds and humans, not in dead money or the evil dead, fiat currency fraud in the capitalism deception.

          Only real capital can pay (fair) interest on loans, via reproductive multiplication and work, zombie currency can't, so will always cause effective slavery, many debt defaults, and poverty.

    3. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

      The "lack of privacy policy" has helped to put me off making better use of my Android tablet. In fact I haven't even turned it on in over a year! I like the big screen and better security of my desktop Linux PC in the living room. Having a decent keyboard is also a factor - I'd dislike typing this using a touch-screen. So for me at least, the novelty of the tablet has largely worn off. If I want a distraction while sitting in a waiting room somewhere, I no longer take the tablet (with Kindle app) and take a real paperback book to read instead. As for internet access, nothing is sufficiently urgent that it can't wait until I'm home on my PC rather than looking at distorted, scrunched up versions of sites on a tablet or phone. If I'm out, I'm out, too busy to be thinking about the internet anyway.

      I bet there are lots of people with disused tablets sitting on shelves and in drawers now the novelty has worn off.

      1. Updraft102

        Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

        I had to check the byline on this post to make sure it wasn't something I'd written and forgotten. I swear that I've written exactly this comment somewhere... even the bit about waiting rooms and how I can wait until I am home to do my browsing, since if I am out and about, it means I am doing something, so get that done first, then go home and browse at my leisure.

        I've often wondered if PC (laptop included) sales would pick up once again after the fad aspect of tablets and smartphones finally wore off and people began to rediscover how nice it is to browse on a real PC. Phones and tablets are great for portability, but that's the only real advantage they have, since by every metric of usability and ergonomics, they are just terrible compared to a real PC. A mouse and keyboard, antiquated as they may seem to "digital natives," are still vastly superior to a touchscreen.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

      Its not exactly rocket science is it

      Obligatory xkcd ref.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

      "We buy things because we want them and haven't already got one."

      That's one primary reason. Another is that after the initial full price purchase, people understand the actual cost of the tablet and will use it until it dies rather than replace it every year or two. Unlike the case with mobile phone where the vast majority buy it through a telco contract with no big upfront cost, just a regular monthly cost as part of the calling plan. It even includes "free upgrade!!!" every year/18 months/two years and those people never seem to understand that they are continually buying a new phone on a loan so never see the cost of the phone as being a big number and hence a big purchase.

      Tablet makers/sellers are probably kicking themselves for not pushing the mobile phone model for tablet sales.

      1. Aitor 1

        Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

        yep, that is ridiculous.

        I am buying a new phone.. and instead of buying i on my own, it is cheaper to buy it from the carrier.

        they will charge me 5£ extra a month for two years for a 320£ phone.

        They might think "hey, we are retaining him", but they are just throwing good money away.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Sales and Marketing reality distortion field

          they will charge me 5£ extra a month for two years for a 320£ phone.

          They might think "hey, we are retaining him", but they are just throwing good money away.

          How much do you think they're paying for the phone from the manufacturer?

          How much does that phone enable them to charge you for all the data the smartness consumes?

  5. TVU Silver badge

    I really like my tablet which can be used to surf the net, watch videos, play audiobooks and act as an ebook reader.

    I guess all that's happened is that the market is saturated and that it will stay at this level now that the novelty has worn off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not if they don't bother to release any new models. Netbooks vanished from the market, and I loved that form factor.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ahh, you're both right, have some "uppers." I have both unnecessary and totally necessary tablets. Guess which brand/OS? Okay, we all had a jolly good laugh. Seriously, I got my new tablet and phone last summer, and they are both working out great. Quick software/security updates, good apps, decent mobile plan and all that. The older tablet is still okay for a few things, even though the age is showing in the small memory and slow CPU, but like all other third-party Android devices; it never gets updates, even when it was new it got so few it left me wondering why bother if the vendor doesn't?

        I know what I need these all for; phone (secure mobile data and apps, easy to pack away), old tablet with weird keyboard stand (pr0n, backup Kodi remote), new tablet w/flappy keyboard add-on (secure mobile data and apps in larger format, like F1 2016, try that using the pro controls on a phone, I know, it sucks, so big games yes, streams when the kid takes over the big screen, Amazon ordering), desktop (media hub, big boy browsing, ssh, brew, processing media), Mint laptop (ssh, dev, Kodi, browsing, Amazon, but not as easy as the tablet, media duties, writing OSes to devices). The tablets are okay to browse the web with, but they always fall down and stub their toe when you try and download a simple file, or do media not already in their codecs.

        My tablet should last 5 years or more, same with the phone, the laptop should do 10 and the desktop better do a dozen or more. Unless I add other hu-mans, I don't need more devices yet! And we are not typical muggle-users, I would wager the rest of you lot have a few devices lying about, and I'm not even counting embeded devices that do anything from a simple media player to a decent low-end server.

        The problem with the tablet market is that all the money goes into sales and marketing and nary a cent for R&D. Let's see some innovations in the space and less following Apple. In Every. Single. Way. From the iconic slidey panels, down to the home and other button placements and even the materials and chassis shape. Can someone, anyone, PLEASE do something different than Apple? I have all their products. I get them from them. I don't buy knock-off Samesong 3rd-party Androids; they are just a crap Apple knock-off without much difference, other than a huge lack of security updates when they reach 1.5 years of "age." Marketing people have no place making decisions about technical products. They all suck at it. Look at GoPro. Too much marketing ruined a fairly good product.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "I have both unnecessary and totally necessary tablets. Guess which brand/OS?"

          Guess? No, can't be bothered.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You can still pick 'em up on eBay. I got a matched pair a couple of months ago. Refurbished. Matched pair because they're not making any more. £135 for both, if memory serves.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Netbooks vanished from the market, and I loved that form factor."

        They didn't spontaneously vanish. They presented a big threat because they were released with a non-MS OS. So an MS variant was devised and made available providing the OEMs kept the spec down to something as barely usable as possible. Ironically, of course, Linux was and is a much better fit on that spec but it was enough to keep people from realising that there were other options than Windows (and Apple at the higher end) and at the same time to keep the netbook out of the mainstream as an inadequate toy.

    2. Arctic fox

      @TVU Re: "I guess all that's happened is that the market is saturated...."

      Indeed it is. It is also interesting that despite what the analysts are quoted as saying in this article* the smartphone market in the West has been showing something of the same symptoms for about a year or so now. Even Apple's money machine the iPhone is now delivering less than stellar sales figures in comparison to the relatively recent past. The only form of retail tech that is showing growth at the moment AFAIK is the market in 2-in-1s. The process of commoditization followed by decline started something under a decade or so ago in the pc market, continued with tablets and is now spreading to the phone market. The take home message appears to be that there is no hiding place for the producers unless they innovate. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that the only market sector showing growth at this time is in the area of highly mobile multifunction 2-in-1 PCs given that it is the only current area of tech where there is any innovation** that the customer feels is delivering something they want/need.

      *"We continue to believe the leading driver for this was the increased dependency on smartphones, along with rather minimal technology and form factor progression."

      **Apart from VR of course and the jury as far as how that will develop in the market place is still very definitely out.

  6. JeffyPoooh

    I've got six or seven already...

    For obvious reasons, I'm not planning to buy another BlackBerry PlayBook.

    Same thing for Windows RT, although the Surface 2 is the least troublesome tablet ever. Hardly any updates, Yay!

    Google Nexus 7 is a crock of crap. Nexus as a brand name has all the attractiveness of hippo's arse.

    I think I'm done with Apple. They've raised 'being stupidly annoying' to an art form.

    Maybe I'll buy another Android tablet, and maybe another Windows tablet someday. Don't hold your breath. And they'd have to be on sale for $100.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've got six or seven already... Me too...

      I also got 6 tablets already! While three of them were free and are used as stylish clocks around the house, I was looking for another one just a few weeks ago.

      That was until I realized the following two facts. One is that my last two tablets have worse specs than a three year old tablet that I use almost every hour. Two is that I'd have to spend close to $500, or twice as much as I paid for my three year old tablet, to get a real upgrade.

      At that price point I gave up looking for another tablet and decided to go for an ultrabook.

      Like others said, lack of innovation and bad pricing are not going to help the industry.

  7. User McUser

    Buy another? Who needs one at all?

    A while ago they gave us all iPads at work (because "iPads" I guess? TBH I'm not really sure why we got them.) I booted it up, signed into my Apple account, turned it off and put it on my desk where it has remained completely unused for over two years now.

    I see no reason to bother with it - the company already provided me with an iPhone that runs exactly all of the same software as the iPad and does so in a form factor that fits in my pocket and works when I'm away from the WiFi. For any situation where I need to do real work (or just need more screen real estate) my dual monitor PC is vastly superior in every conceivable way.

    Whatever niche it is that tablet devices fill is not one that I have ever encountered. At no time have I ever said "Gosh, if only I had a tablet device right now! This [smart-phone/laptop/desktop] just isn't cutting it."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stagnant engineering -> Stagnant Market

    Some of the other commenters mention how the manufacturers aren't building the devices for their users. Pretty much hits the nail on the head. People will keep using a tablet till it can't surf the web anymore unless the new version offers enough to give them a reason to upgrade.

    Apple tries to force this by treating Safari (an App) as part of the OS, early landfill android tablets have no ram, no storage, and old WiFi hardware in addition to dysfunctional OS software. The RT was a windows on ARM dodo. So that helped drive turnover as people replaced their earlier (dysfunctional) toys. As the market matured that pool has thinned, and since the new hardware offers only incremental or cosmetic changes, sales are falling off for the same reasons as the laptop markets.

    The manufacturers are still operating in a bubble where they think they can extort the market for 5x market rate for flash, ignore SD card support, or offer low performance improvements over older hardware. In addition, architectural limits like blocking visibility of the file system limit the uptake of new use cases that could expand the existing market. In this case, if you want more sales, build better products.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. RonWheeler


    Phones git bigger, laptops got thinner and cheaper, tablets got irrelevant,

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get rid of Android; make 'em drop-in-a-pool waterproof and include a kickstand and a flip-out keyboard and I might be interested. Might just as well use a phone, otherwise.

    The only advantages tablets offer is screen bigness; and I already have a range of options for that.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Innovation in tablets turned out to involve fitting them with a hinged keyboard, resulting in the kind of thing I'm typing on now. It's called a notebook with a touchscreen.

    1. DropBear

      Re: Unfortunately...

      Can that netbook shed its keyboard when convenient though...? My only tablet is a netbook-style 10" tablet+keyboard thing, which is much nicer to use than a plain tablet for anything that involves ANY typing (yes that includes browsing - what do you think I'm doing right now? Typing WHILE browsing...) whereas the alternate use of reading e-books is much nicer _without_ the keyboard attached. It kinda made me partial to this form factor - if I ever replaced it (not as long as I can help it), I'd only be looking for a similar device (which I understand might have become regrettably scarce since).

  13. pro-logic

    No improvement is specs

    My nexus 7 (2013) model is slowly dying. It has only one use case, I use it to read news in the morning while on the crapper. Better then doing it on my phone because bigger screen, and less awkward then getting out the laptop and putting it on your lap...

    My problem is that all the current tablets in the 7" space have specs that are worse than the one from 2013! Lower resolution screens... crap versions of android... if they kept pumping out the same stuff it would actually have been better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No improvement is specs

      "My problem is" ... that you spend too much time on the crapper? Eat more fibre.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: No improvement is specs

        I guess battery life isn't that important.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: No improvement is specs

      "My nexus 7 (2013) model is slowly dying. It has only one use case, I use it to read news in the morning while on the crapper."

      Note to self. Avoid used Nexus 7s on eBay.

  14. Chris Coombs

    ipad costs too high now

    I use my ipad mini mainly to watch TV shows - it's 3 years old and still works fine.

    Latest ipad minis now cost £419 (with 128GB of unnecessary space since I mostly stream).

    No cheaper options on ipad minis availabe anymore.

    I wont be an upgrader at that price. Apple is really taking the piss now ...

  15. spleach

    Planes, trains and tablets

    I've never owned a tablet, having never had the desire to spend hundreds of pounds on one. I've never felt I've missed out, but am always slightly envious of tablet owners on planes and trains, when in one smooth motion they whip out their slablets, flip over the cover and continue watching some fun hi-def movie or tv show.

    Often, I'll do the same but less smoothly with my (relatively-small-but-still-larger-than-a-tablet) 13" laptop, which struggles to even fit on the tiny tables present on trains or planes. When watching something awkwardly on a plane and we're about to take-off or land, a steward or stewardess is guaranteed to come over and tell me to put it away. Tablet owners on the other hand, can continue to sit there watching something good without ever being interrupted. These are the only times I really wish I had a tablet, the rest of the time I'll use a real keyboard, thanks.

  16. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Consumer device

    The fondleslab is a consumption device and even with loads of developers writing applications and marketers trying to convince people that they can do anything on a tablet that they could do with their laptop, nothing has changed. I use a tablet to remote control my camera, read email while traveling, visit the odd web site and read books and manuals. To edit photos, write or draw, I use my desktop with a proper keyboard and mouse. My phone gets used as a phone so it doesn't have to be plugged in several times a day to charge.

    There hasn't been a new use for tablets for ages that can't be done with one's existing kit. I'll save my money for that trip to Iceland next year.

    1. The Brave Sir Robin

      Re: Consumer device

      "I'll save my money for that trip to Iceland next year"

      You shouldn't need to save up that much. Their prices are very reasonable. I particularly recommend their own brand fish fingers. Very good price for a packet of 35.

      1. Loud Speaker

        Re: Consumer device

        The cod fillets are damn good too - and the "coated French fries" No idea what they are coated with - probably polysilicon amide.

        And I already have a tablet in the draw if I can ever think of a use case (won it in a competition).

        Sure I would buy a new 8" Samsung Note - but they don't make one, and if they did, a Nissan Note would probably be cheaper.

  17. James O'Shea

    Tablets and their uses

    I have an Apple iPad Air 2. I use it for a few things, and a few things only:

    1 I used to buy a lot of books. Over time, since I got the iPad, I don't buy that many. Instead I buy ebooks and read them on the iPad. It's simply easier and more convenient to use the iPad than to haul around actual paper. I literally have hundreds of works of fiction and dozens of technical works (no jokes about how hard it might be to tell the difference, now) in various libraries (Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle, VitalSource Bookshelf) on the iPad (note: no B&N Nook. There's a reason why) and having them all in one place makes life a lot easier. That most ebooks (or at least most of the ebooks tat _I_ buy, YMMV) cost less than paper books means that savings on books alone has saved me a fair fraction of the cost of the iPad right there. (I used to buy a _lot_ of books...)

    2 I drive. A lot. I use Waze on the iPad while driving. I could use it on a phone instead, but the screen on the iPad is a lot bigger and shows more info. The time saved from avoiding traffic jams (and cops) again represents a good fraction of the cost of the iPad.

    3 while I'm in the car I usually turn off the drivel on the radio and connect the iPad to the USB plug in the car, playing music from my iTunes collection. Again, I could use a phone instead, but the iPad is connected to the USB port to trickle charge while running Waze anyway (Waze drinks battery power at an amazing rate otherwise) so why not?

    4 I have a cover for the iPad which has a Bluetooth keyboard built in. This converts the iPad into a small form-factor laptop once I've left the car. I have MS Office (the free version, I am _not_ paying Microsoft $100/year to rent their software) on the iPad and can and have used it for quick access to stuff in Sky/Onedrive or Dropbox ot iCloud. It's not a real full-fat laptop, so I have the Asus for doing all-out laptop things, but the iPad works fine for quick, lightweight, jobs. I could try to squint and use a phone, except that I don't have a real keyboard for the phone and I make enough typos when using a real keyboard as it is. I'd be an utter disaster using the software keyboard on a phone.

    5 I have been known to watch the occasional movie or tv show on the iPad. Again, tis could be done on a phone, except that the screen is just too small.

    I've had the iPad for more than two years. When it finally dies, which won't be for a. while yet if I have anything to say on the matter, I'll probably get an iPad Pro or whatever is current then, for the larger screen. Until then I see absolutely no reason to buy another tablet of any kind. I'm looking to replace my laptop. One reason why I can drag out the search is that quite a bit of what I used to use the laptop for (reading ebooks, playing music in the car, some of the stuff I do with Office, watching the occasional movie, that kind of thing) can be done on the iPad instead. When I need a real computer I use either the laptop or a desktop. When I need to look at a tech book for something, or to just read something for entertainment, I use the iPad.

    and, oh yeah, one last thing... I use the iPad as a hotspot to allow my laptop to connect to the Internet without having to use a public hotspot. More secure that way. Again, I could use a phone for that, but experience shows that doing that eats battery at a truly amazing rate. And, in the days when I had Sprint, those idiots wanted an extra $10/month for 1 GB of tethered hotspot bandwidth. T-Mob doesn't care how much tethered time I put in over a month. The iPad is on T-Mob, and I no longer have a phone connected to Sprint.

    1. Not also known as SC

      Re: Tablets and their uses

      The only realistic 'productive' use I've seen with tablets is as portable clipboards where the user has to fill in a form or check an appointment list. My son's swimming classes use tablets for the clipboard purpose. The tablets are in a waterproof case which still allows information to be recorded making them ideal for taking notes by the pool side. My opticians use tablets for listing appointments and checking you in when you arrive.

      I am (was) in the market for a new tablet after my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 died a death. It would have needed replaced many years earlier if I hadn't put Cyanomod on it because Samsung crippled it with a firmware update. The current tablet options seem really 'meh' and offer poor value for money as far as I can tell. The longer I don't a have a tablet, and I'm forced to use my laptop for things, the less inclined I feel to buy another tablet especially when I start comparing prices to laptops.

    2. DropBear

      Re: Tablets and their uses

      "That most ebooks (or at least most of the ebooks tat _I_ buy, YMMV) cost less than paper books"

      That must be some startlingly unique literature. There has never been any ebook I've seen that didn't cost either almost as much or outright more than its paperback counterpart. This is so well established actually it's one of the pillars of any argument concerning ebook uptake - they are expected to cost less than paper except they never, ever do. Maybe it's more like YAEEMMV (your and everyone else's mileage)...?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Combination of factors

    1) big phones made small tablets less of a difference

    2) thinner/lighter laptops made big tablets less of a difference

    3) replacement cycle more like laptops than phones

    I gave my girlfriend an iPad 2 for her birthday not long after it was released, and she still uses it every day - when she moved she dumped her PC and never got a new one. Hasn't even had to replace the battery, since it only needs charging once a week I guess it doesn't get the same number of charge/discharge cycles as a phone so the battery lasts a lot longer.

    I think tablets will eventually stabilize at some lower level, as we're probably due to reach the replacement cycle for tablets pretty soon. They just won't ever come close to the overly optimistic predictions of the early years when analysts assumed people would be replacing them every two years like a phone.

  19. Chika

    Smug mode activated

    Some years ago now I said that tablets were a fad.

    I owned two of them. OK, they were cheap beasts; the first one died after a year of use which didn't impress me at all given that it didn't have much use to its name and I stopped using the second after I realised that the firmware had a bug in it which made it insecure.

    The trouble was that I never really found a good use for them. Apart from those two, I had an iPad briefly at one job I had but again it often sat in my drawer doing nothing. That isn't to say that they didn't have their uses but it does show that I never really had a use for them. In fact the last use I had for a tablet was swiftly supplanted when I realised that my smartphone could do the same job with a lot more portability.

    The idea that tablets would replace laptops soon came to an end with such things as ultrabooks and so forth in that people still wanted a decent keyboard rather than faffing about with a touchscreen when typing. It's the reason why Windows 8 was a flawed concept and it's the reason now why tablets are on the decline, and that's before we consider the market saturation.

    Tablets were a fad just as smartwatches and netbooks were fads. There may have been good intentions behind them but a fad is a fad and all fads must end.

  20. DrBobK

    Regular Kindle Replacement

    If plain old Kindles (the ones for reading) count as tablets then I replace my tablet regularly as I regularly forget my Kindle in the seat pockets in aeroplanes.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone is commenting on the limitations of the tablet, and/or features.

    Apple just released a much cheaper IPAD that doesn't include the stuff people don't need. The Pensil support and the latest processor were left out because people don't need them. So, someone was listening.

    The #1 thing holding the tablets back isn't hardware it's the 4G connection. My speed clocks out at 2.7Mb. That's to slow for quality video, etc.

    So, until 5G is available expect sales to stall.

  22. Slap

    The problem with tablets isn't actually a problem...

    ...because for the last 4 years they've all been more than good enough to do what we want from them. Hence no problem.

    For me personally tablets replaced the need for me to carry a laptop around with me.

    I still rock an iPad Mini 2. This still does everything I need it to such as being able to remote into servers, general office tasks, entertainment, reading etc. So far I havent really found anything that it can't do, apart from the stuff that I'm not going to do when mobile anyway.

    My GF stll runs an iPad 2 - now 6 years old and it still does everything she needs it to, pretty much to the extent that she powers on her desktop about once a month.

    To those who say that tablets were a fad: I disagree. The only reason that tablet sales have declined is that there has been no reason to update apart from a very few niche cases. Those tablets sold 4 or 5 years ago are still in use because they already do what people want of them.

    And that kind of mirrors the entire computing industry over the last 5 years - It's got to the stage where, for most people, anything you bought within the last few years is already more than good enough.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: The problem with tablets isn't actually a problem...

      I rather agree with both the "fad" and the "they were good enough years ago" statements.

      Tablets have a very limited use case - time and places where you want a portable, medium-sized screen in a small box to display stuff, and either have the time before entering that place to put the stuff onto the tablet, or have fast enough WiFi to stream it.

      That means documentation (aircraft pilots, onsite documentation, ebooks etc) and/or watching movies in places where you don't have access to anything better (travelling) and at home away from the TV.

      - They're no good for streaming away from home because hotel wifi still sucks.

      The tablets of five or six years ago did all that, and still have enough battery life to keep doing it today.

      It's a fad because lots of people bought one thinking they'd find them useful, only to discover that they did not.

      The other people who did find them genuinely useful, already have one and simply aren't going to replace this "third screen" until it doesn't do what they found useful - so they won't buy a new one until the battery life is short enough to be sufficiently annoying.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most smartphones are now huge phablets. Anying over a 4" screen is as good as a tablet.

    I have a 5SE and iPad mini. If I had a 8plus I would question the need for a tablet

  24. K

    Have to chuckle...

    I recall several articles (even on El Reg) hinting tablets would become the defacto standard, whilst PC's would become a relic, almost made consider a career change!

    1. DropBear

      Re: Have to chuckle...

      Please tell me it wouldn't have been "table sanitizer"...

    2. Aitor 1

      Re: Have to chuckle...

      I am pretty sure phones will replace desktops.

      Right now they have 6 GB of RAM , UFS 2.1 solid state drives (900MB/s) and decent processors, at the level of i3s from 4 years ago.. so only the software is failing, this is, Android is crap.

  25. Black Betty

    E-books and Flash games.

    Those are I suspect the two major uses for tablet style computing devices, and neither demands any more grunt than was available from the first reliable generation of tablets. Phones are the goto device for personal organisation, and laptops for compute or input heavy applications on a mobile platform.

    As those for whom the smartphone has become an essential appendage begin to age, and develop worsening eyesight, the tablet might come into its own, and as a generation developing a whole new suite of fine motor skills grows up, that "Killer App" might put in an appearance. Until then my Galaxy S2 is more than sufficient unto the day.

  26. Ropewash


    Got one to use as a cheap Cintiq knock-off. A job it handles well enough for a non-artist such as myself that can't justify the Wacom price but still likes to see where he's making marks on a drawing.

    It has one major advantage over the Cintiq in that it doesn't have to be tethered to a computer to work.

    It has one major dis-advantage in that it's vastly less powerful than the machine it would have been tethered to. Still, it's a decent little machine that runs actual graphics software, even if it does it slower than I'd like.

    I would like to replace it with one that has more grunt, but Microsoft have decided to go down the Windows10 route and I can't stomach using that system so I won't be replacing this thing until the battery explodes.

    1. Truckle The Uncivil

      Re: Surface3pro

      Take a look at the iPad Pro for this. It is expensive but performs well. Take a look at the app Procreate too. You might just like them.

  27. HKmk23

    The only reason

    I use a tablet (Lenovo Yoga 2-830F) is to look up something while watching TV because I am too lazy to get up and walk over to the laptop, and most of all to read Kindle books in bed and check email first thing before getting up. For anything else they are useless.

    1. kmac499

      Re: The only reason

      I take your point of tablets being an addon to TVs, looking up stuff as you watch, reading a twitter stream, or even using the tablet to find a youtube vid and then cast it onto the TV,

      They are almost like a silent version of Alexa,Cortana,Siri

      Mines a Samsung note 8 tablet and it's USP is an infrared blaster. It makes a great TV remote.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Falling sales? Rubbish!

    Why IDC themselves predicted it will "only" see single digit growth in 2017. So clearly you lot a peddling Fake News!

  29. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Haven't charged up my tablet in months

    It's a decent cheap Windows tablet with built in Wacom pen, and the only reason I wanted to resurrect my ancient (HP Touchpad) Android flashed tablet I dropped on the floor at xmas was to play the excellent Sorcery! 4. Realised I could buy the Windows version cheap, and played it on a laptop instead.

    For most things my Blackberry Priv is more than adequate, for the remainder I want a keyboard so a laptop or desktop are appropriate.

    A 10" tablet might be useful for reading comics on the go, anything smaller isn't sufficient. Book reading has to use a proper e-ink Kindle, a TFT does not compare, not to mention the multi week battery life.

  30. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Give us all your money suckers!

    Buy a new Samsung S8 for £700 to £800,.... This is for a phone that will almost certainly need to be replaced in 2 years. Nah! I have no need for a fashion item.

    Buy a Galaxy Tab S3 for £600? I paid £320 for my Mk1 Note 10.1 four years ago and now their top spec tablet costs nearly twice that. Have we had 100% inflation over 4 years? When I replace mine it will be maximum £400 and since Samsung seem to think they can gouge their customers like Apple can, I will probably be going elsewhere. I have no desire to be a SamBoi.

    I use an ancient Kobo for book reading, a Moto G3 as a phone and the Note as a tablet. If I need to do something more complex I have a 2 year old PC that runs everything I need or want.

  31. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    I found an innovative use

    I found an excellent use for my 10" Android tablet.

    When I last sang with a choir, I used it as a musical rehearsal device for learning the music. If you can get the music MIDI form, then there are applications that will convert it back into sheet music, and provided it is broken into appropriate tracks, play the individual parts as per your selection, and display the sheet music at the same time.

    Couple it with a pair of headphones, and you can then follow the music and hear the parts all on one easily carried device. Mind you, bursting into song in the middle of a train or plane does not go down too well with the other passengers.

    You can also have a audio or video recording of a performance as well, and if you want to go that far, record your own rehearsals with the rest of the choir/orchestra to allow you to review the session.

    I have seen musicians use them in place of paper music on their music stands, with the music auto-scrolling so they don't have to turn pages.

    I also use it while I'm out for reading comics and books, and watching shows I rip to SD card. It's so old that I can't remember when I got it (it got Android 4.04 soon after I got it), and had an 8000mA battery that puts smartphones to shame. I still get 4-6 hours of continuous use from one charge, although it can get really slow until the firmware is re-flashed (no Trim support for the flash filesystems)

  32. RegW

    Open OS

    Personnally, I still don't have a tablet. I was waiting for someone to launch one with a well supported Linux option. Or pehaps some other open OS where I get to say what runs on it, and who it reports home to.

    Still waiting.


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