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What's Happened To Tablet Innovation?

Has their time come or do they need rethinking?

20Aug

The first iPad was released in 2010 to a wave of negativity. Many thought it was just a big iPhone, a glorified iPod touch and definitely a few hundred dollars overpriced.

Yet in the five years since its release, the tablet - and the iPad in particular - has become a staple for not just technology enthusiasts, but everyday people. But despite proving the doubters wrong early on, the tablet market has been slowing down recently.

In fact, recent sales figures demonstrate that the market’s not just slowing down, but entering a downward spiral which could threaten its longevity. Apple and Samsung are the two largest manufactures and both have experienced negative year-on-year growth in the tablet industry, with Apple’s standing at -22.9%. Forbes claimed that the industry had been hit by a lack of innovation, with the industry unable to distinguish itself from larger smartphones.

Another big problem is that people seem to be happy to keep their old models and just update them with the latest software. This hasn’t been a problem in the smartphone market — the iPhone 6 models smashed opening weekend sales records - which in itself speaks volumes for Apple’s ability to make continuous improvements to its smartphones, but not with its tablets.

The drop off took Gartner, for example, by surprise. The research firm predicted that the industry would continue to climb, with people more willing to invest in tablets than PCs. Their optimism was perhaps unfounded, however, with the evidence suggesting that iPad sales had been decreasing as early as 2013.

It’s not all doom and gloom however. Windows tablets - once considered no-hopers - have gradually chipped away at Apple and Samsung’s marketshare, with PC World predicting that this will continue over the coming years. This is significant in that Windows tablets are normally much cheaper than those made by the industry’s premium brands, highlighting that people are now more concerned about price, not specs.

In response, Apple has reportedly been in the process of manufacturing a ‘super’iPad, which would be 12 inches high and 8.7 inches wide. The reports have, however, been spurious at best, with a few sketches and pictures on Weibo - the Chinese social network - the primary source.

Whatever the response, it must invigorate an industry which has been guilty of resting on its laurels. Apple and Samsung, in particular, must innovate so their tablets can once again be important parts of their respective companies portfolios.  

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