Tablet market dead?

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41

My old dell tablet got dropped and the screen cracked. I went up to microsoftstore.com to look at what they might have and………nothing. Just Surface. Ditto for BestBuy. Amazon has some NuVision tablets that might work.

I understand the tablet market is depressed but holy cow. This appears to me to be a complete market collapse for Windows 10 on tablets as a consumption device.

It’s crazy. I have an iPad, a remaining Windows tablet, and an Android tablet. I MUCH prefer the Windows tablet. Windows 10 finally got the tablet experience right. Finally. Just in time for Microsoft to apparently give up on it just like phone?

EDIT UPDATE: I wrote the headline and realize now my intent was not specific. I was referring to the WINDOWS tablet market. Obviously, the Android and iOS tablet markets are not dead.

Comments (41)

41 responses to “Tablet market dead?”

  1. Avatar

    ErichK

    I know, it's too bad that there can't be a viable third option behind iOS and Android. But again, maybe the market only needs two. I purchased an Insignia Windows 10 tablet once, but it kept freezing up on me so I had to return it. I have an Asus 2-in-1, and I *sometimes* use it in tablet mode, and I think the experience is pretty good, for the most part. But I use my Amazon Fire HD a lot more. Curious, why do you prefer your Windows tablet vs. the others you own? Not judging, I genuinely want to know.

    • Avatar

      yaddamaster

      In reply to ErichK: I honestly prefer the interface better. And I have a few "Win32" apps that I like to have available. Not critical but nice-to-have.Things like printing seem simpler. File sharing with other pc's on my home network. If I'm on my tablet and I want to browse photos on the server in the back room - piece of cake on windows. Fairly simple on Android. iPad - I gave up trying a long time ago. I shouldn't have to buy a file system app for something the OS should provide......and I hate iTunes. Worst.program.ever.

      Maybe it's time to pick up a Fire HD and give it a whirl.


  2. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    The most likely explanation is that OEMs can't make what those OEMs believe are adequate profits from Windows tablets. Maybe because iPads and Surface tablets suck away all the potential buyers willing to spend US$500 or more, maybe because most potential tablet buyers compare OEM Windows tablet prices to Android tablet prices and won't pay more for the Windows license.

    I just checked Amazon (US). They list several Dell Venue tablets.

  3. Avatar

    skane2600

    I think tablets are in a odd space. Not sufficiently "handy" to compete with smartphones, but still the wrong ergonomics for a PC replacement.

  4. Avatar

    wunderbar

    The reality really is that the only tablet that's actually worth buying right now is an iPad.


    I own a couple Android tablets, and a couple windows tablets, and the iPad is just a better device. Full stop. I don't like it, because I'm not a fan of the choices in software apple makes,, but objectively, the only pure tablet device that is worth considering nowadays is the iPad.


    Note: I don't really consider the Surface Pro as a tablet. Microsoft doesn't even market it that way anymore. It's not a tablet, it's a 2in1.

  5. Avatar

    SocialDanny123

    It's more or less due to the fact that devices like Surface and Convertibles like the Yoga has essentially replaced the normal tablet.


    Android also has this problem, OEMs aren't producing Android tablets anymore and has basically moved on from it.

  6. Avatar

    Vladimir Carli

    A huge problem is the lack of tablet specific apps. I recently bought a surface book 2 with the objective of replacing laptop and ipad but I find myself lacking many apps for the tablet use. For example the app that I use to read magazines has been discontinued for windows. If Microsoft doesn't fix the store problem, it's going to be though

    V.

  7. Avatar

    Bob Shutts

    My local Honda service people are using some kind of Windows tablet. The app is NOT scaled for the small tablet screen. The text is tiny and the service writers have trouble seeing the text. I asked my pal Gary if he couldn't just go to settings and enlarge the text, and he said they tried that and 1/3 of the page goes missing.


    I realize this probably isn't Microsoft's fault, but maybe some of the app devs need to up their game so MS tablet sales improve?



  8. Avatar

    jimchamplin

    Those NuVision models I hope are better than the one I purchased. It didn’t last a year.

  9. Avatar

    Paul Thurrott

    8-inch Windows tablets enjoyed a brief moment in the sun (Windows 8.1 time frame, roughly) then disappeared. Today, the Windows tablet market is really the Windows 2-in-1 market. It's just another type of mainstream PC.

  10. Avatar

    Bats

    Is the tablet market dead? The answer, NO.

    Like I've mentioned many times before, technology finds a way of converging two things and making them into one. That convergence is laptops and tablets.

    I saw this happening 4-5 years ago, when I was at the local Best Buy to play with cool tech and I noticed how bluetooth keyboards for iPads and Androids were sold out. The very fact that people were buying them, suggested to me that there is a market for mobile computing bigger than the smartphone. Then, I see Microsoft and Samsung come up with their 2-in-1's at the same time, the Surface pro and the Galaxy Note Pro.

    The point of all this, is to say that the tablet is not dead. It's alive and kicking in the 2-in-1 form factor. The same can be said for laptop computers.

  11. Avatar

    MutualCore

    It drives me crazy whenever I hear Paul or anyone in tech podcasts talk about 'tablets are dead'. Sure exponential growth tablet sales stopped around 2015. Even now, Apple sells approx 10 million iPads/quarter. I imagine 3x as many Android tablets are sold as well. So that's 45-50 million tablets/quarter are sold. Sure 200 million smartphones are sold in the same time-span, and tech blogs are all about the CLICKS and THE BAITS. So they write headlines 'tablets are dead' to generate clicks and ad revenue. Tablets are alive & well. I personally wish there were something better in Android tablets right now, it seems pretty stale and I don't want to give Apple more revenue.


    Regarding Microsoft, I would not say they have given up on tablets until 2018 comes and goes. If they do not release an approx 9" 3:2 tablet 'Surface Mini' that runs Qualcomm 845 I will say that they have given up. Let's wait and see.

    • Avatar

      Jeffery Commaroto

      In reply to MutualCore:


      It also ignores the fact that children use tablets. Go to an airport, kids sporting event etc. and you will see plenty of tablets being held by young kids. The tablet has replaced the TV for many as the babysitter.


      That new iPad “what’s a computer” ad is actually pretty on point. Even though most kids won’t have an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil etc. They live on Kindle Fire’s, Samsung devices and iPads. Then they graduate to phones and Chromebooks.

  12. Avatar

    2ilent8cho

    The Window tablet market seems to have died, but the tablet market? no. Apple after slight decreasing sales every quarter seemed to have found the natural average sales figure for the iPad (around 10 million a quarter) and have rebound a little last 2 quarters. I would not call selling 40 to 50 million iPads a year a dead tablet market.


    Samsung still seem to be selling tablets in the millions, and the fire tablet still seems popular at the budget end.


    I think its the case of at being an actual tablet the iPad is the best experience. Windows excels at being a desktop experience and people generally buy desktops or laptops for that and not tablets. You have a few niche cases of people wanting Windows in a tablet form, but it must have been a very low number or sales of Windows tablets would be better. Just browsing general internet comments you find often surface users say they rarely if ever use it in tablet mode.


    Even in enterprise i'm seeing iPads make BIG dents on the retail side, if you see a tablet being used in a shop i find its almost always an iPad.


    Its just another segment Microsoft just did not understand. They had Windows XP Tablet Edition 15/16 years ago, so had a 9 year head start on the iPad , like with mobile, they had smart phones before the iPhone. But Microsoft is good at doing things the wrong way, and then its too late and they scramble to play catchup. or Microsoft don't know when they have done things really well , mess with it then annoy their happy user base. Start menu anyone.....?

  13. Avatar

    Roger Ramjet

    Well, Windows tablets are "dead" (a bit exagerrated) because of Windows 2in1 and touch on Windows10. It means it is too hard to differentiate a "tablet" product from the 2in1, which can do almost everything that a Windows tablet would be able to do, so they stick to the product with the better economics. Apple on the other hand does not have touch on MacOS, and those computers arent versatile the way Windows PCs have become, so they can have a distinct tablet segment with iOS. Android on the other hand owns the low end as they can run on ARM chips. Windows can't. ARM chips are also just better for the more personal experience of a tablet without the uneeded power and the heat of x86. You will get some Windows tablets next year though on Qualcomm chips.

  14. Avatar

    Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

    The apparent reason for the decline of Windows tablets was their abysmal battery life, which could in no way match the battery life of both Android tablets and iPads. Though manufacturers often listed Windows tablets as having up to 7 hours of continual usage, real life usage was almost always half of that stated by the manufacturers. This disenfranchised the consumer to purchase >$350 high-end Windows tablets, leaving the market for bargain-basement poorly equipped Windows 2GB tablets, with sub-720p resolution displays, thereby often leaving a sour taste due to a lack-lustre user-experience of Windows on tablets.


    I have a Lenovo ThinkPad 8 (a 8.3" 16:10 1080p Dragontrail IPS display with 4GB RAM and 64 MB eMMC storage space) which is accompanied with 802.11a/b/g/n, GPS and LTE, an absolutely superb Windows 10 Pro x64 device and still going strong since purchasing it back in November 2014, with the exception of the appalling 4½ hour usage time with a full charge.


    The problem with Windows tablets has not been with Microsoft, but squarely at Intel being either lazy, or incompetent, but most probably Intel's dismissal of the mobile market in the mid-noughties (2000s) as being inconsequential. Intel made a calculated decision, and evidently it has cost them dearly, as 95% of all mobiles and tablets are powered by ARM SoCs.


    Intel's best efforts were with the Atom range of CPUs that powered Windows tablets (such as your Dell tablet ― probably a Venue 8 or 11), at a thermal design power (TDP) of 4W. In comparison, ARM SoC have a TDP of about 1W. Therein lies the reason for Windows tablets poor battery life. Intel has since pulled the plug on Atom CPU developments, however with increasing competition from the likes of Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 845 with the accompanying Windows on ARM OS, AMD's offerings with the powerful 15W Ryzen APUs embedded with Radeon Vega Graphics and Qualcomm's Gigabit LTE chip, Intel has announced within the last few days, a rebuttal to both Qualcomm and AMD, with its quad core Gemini Lake 4.8W SoCs (though still power hungry).


    Intel has dragged its feet for far too long concerning all things mobile, akin to what Microsoft has done over the same time frame. The fortunes of Microsoft are intertwined with Intel, with Windows running exclusively on x86 devices. However Microsoft has succumbed to the failure of the Wintel monopoly to take on traction with low-power devices, and now some hope lies with the fruits of Microsoft's wisdom, though late it may be, as both Microsoft and Qualcomm have embarked on a collaborative relationship to build devices with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 SoC (835 initially) running Windows on ARM OS, a full blown Window 10 desktop OS for ARM devices that have allegedly the battery power to last a full day, in the months ahead.


    The tablet market in 2018 is set for another shake up, by virtue of a slew of new ARM powered tablets running Windows on ARM. Let's just hope the prices for these devices are affordable for the average consumer.


    The talk of new ARM powered tablets running Windows cannot be complete without discussion of the Windows 10 ARM OS powering ARM smartphones. It's a waiting game we'll just have to sit it out, hoping 2018 is the year for a new dawn for Windows 10, equipped specifically to render proportionately on low-powered sub-10" devices.

    • Avatar

      Simard57

      In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

      you nailed it. I have a NuVision tablet (2 year old model) and the battery performance is horrible. I left it unplugged before leaving for work yesterday and when I picked it up 12 hours later it was dead. Power management is non-existent in it.


      I so look forward to an 8" WoA tablet with inking that can get use 12+ hours of use across multiple days delivering the power management such a device needs.


    • Avatar

      Chris_Kez

      In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

      Nicely said. And yes, that 4GB Lenovo ThinkPad 8 sounds fantastic. I don't think I ever actually saw it for sale anywhere.

      • Avatar

        Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        I appreciate your kind words.


        If my memory serves me well, the 4 GB RAM and 128 GB eMMC storage configuration options became available about 12 months after the debut of the ThinkPad 8, along with an updated faster Intel Broadwell Atom CPU. However it was at about this time, Lenovo realised they had mounting ThinkPad inventory in the US due to atrocious sales, thus Lenovo ended US sales shortly after.


        Sales in the EU were slightly better, and so I believe the 4 GB and 128 GB offerings were only available in Europe in the first instance, and later in the Middle East and South-East Asia (don't know about sales in the Far East, Latin America, or Africa).


        I followed, almost religiously, the state of Windows Tablet market, attempting to comprehend why the likes of the Dell Venue Pro 8, as well the HP Stream 7", HP Slate 2, HP ProPad 408 G1, etc, were not attracting mass volume sales as both the iFad and Android tablets were achieving.


        The iFads were priced similar to those high-end Windows tablets, but the emblazoned half-bitten Apple logo on the rear of any device in minds of the consumer, implies a product that is deserved of a high price tag. The Windows tablets simply couldn't compete with poor battery life. That's where the second sequel to the Windows tablet story continues in 2018, with Snapdragon 845 tablets with Windows on ARM. But the price has to right, else it doom and gloom for Microsoft, yet again.

    • Avatar

      skane2600

      In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

      I don't think a version of Windows that has to use emulation to run standard Windows programs really qualifies as a "full blown Windows 10 desktop OS". That would make Intel-based Windows running under VMWare even more "full blown" than Windows on ARM.

      • Avatar

        Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

        In reply to skane2600:

        My description of "full blown Windows 10 desktop OS" is to make an explicitly clear distinction between the three former OS of Windows RT, Windows Phone 7/8, and Windows 10 Mobile, which were entirely distinct OS from their desktop OS counterpart.


        Window 10 Pro x64 and Windows on ARM shall be fundamentally the same, built upon what Microsoft describes as Windows Core OS, which has the aim to align the kernel and the fundamental Windows libraries completely independent of the architecture (x86 or ARM), in contrast to the current situation where each Windows version has a different interface and libraries.


        Microsoft has also worked on the dilemma with standardising how the UI scales across all devices, described as a unified adaptive shell to span all Windows 10 hardware types, known as Composable Shell (CShell). This should resolve the issue around the UI elements of x86 applications scaling proportionately on both tablets and smartphones.

        • Avatar

          jimchamplin

          In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

          I don’t think CShell can do anything for legacy software. MS has to replace the software that renders all of the legacy Win32 UI elements, which would be a drastic undertaking, especially when one considers that Windows devs - especially utility devs - just love their horrible custom interface bits. That would all have to be dealt with.

        • Avatar

          skane2600

          In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

          Windows RT and Windows phone 7/8 weren't entirely distinct from Windows 8 on the desktop. The goal of merging these OS's into a single OS was started long before UWP or Windows Core OS was announced. Of course if you take MS at it's "One Windows" word, Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 on the desktop are the same OS (not that I believe that, but that's the company line).


          As far as processor independent architecure is concerned, it started with Windows NT.

        • Avatar

          hrlngrv

          In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:

          Picky: Windows RT included a desktop and desktop applets like Notepad. It could also be jailbroken and then able to run desktop software compiled for ARM. In contrast, Windows Phone 7/8 and Windows 10 Mobile didn't/don't have desktops.

      • Avatar

        Simard57

        In reply to skane2600:

        if it is transparent to the user, why isn't emulation viable for a full blown windows 10 desktop OS experience?

        • Avatar

          skane2600

          In reply to Simard57:

          Why would you think that emulation will be transparent? Performance is a factor. Otherwise why pay for the latest Core i7 processor when you could buy a cheaper Celeron?

          • Avatar

            Simard57

            In reply to skane2600:

            it is transparent if the user doesn't have to do anything to run any app - they operate like you would expect them to


            performance is a threshold - either it is performant enough or it isn't. Most of that I7 you bought sits at idle and app performance is indistinguishable from a lower level processor. If you require an I7, than the ARM (or anything less than an I7) is not for you.


            most modern processors are performant enough and I will be interested in seeing if WoA crosses that threshold. My value equation places efficiency (measured by battery life) higher than raw performance, but that is me.


            • Avatar

              skane2600

              In reply to Simard57:

              "I can't imagine wanting my programs to run faster" said no one (unless they're in a self-congratulations state of mind on their purchase). Sometimes there's a lower limit on performance that allows a program to be usable. If the performance of such a program when emulated is below the performance of a low-end conventional PC, it may fail one aspect of "transparency".




  15. Avatar

    Lauren Glenn

    I realized this when I got my first iPad and shortly after I ended up buying a keyboard for it so I could type on it. The inability to use a mouse and having to push on the screen made me realize that a tablet is of limited benefit to me except as a consumption device (watching videos, etc). That's it. So after a while, I didn't buy a tablet since. I just ended up getting an old Fujitsu laptop running Win10 for about $200. Put in a 2TB drive and it does all I need.


    Once you realize those tablet OS's limit your experience and that you realize that WIndows 10 tablets are still harder to use than a computer (and you're still needing a keyboard), you're better off with a convertible anyway. I just wish they all had rugged cases so it would be like my iPad but have a mouse and keyboard (plus USB options) -- and a usable filesystem where I can share files between apps without dealing with permissions, etc.


    I used to have a Surface just to watch MP4 videos on it. But those storage units are way too small (even 128GB on a Surface 3 is small -- I need 1TB or more to make it worth having).....


    But I think we all came to the conclusion that tablets markets weren't going to last when no one could sell their tablets at a decent rate except for Apple.

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