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IDC: Tablets to Rebound on 2018

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Tablets might be on the decline during 2016, but IDC has a positive report for the future-- the device category will return to growth come 2018 and continue at least until 2020, thanks to the popularity of detachable/hybrid tablets.

IDC 2016 tablet forecast

"Appealing to the commercial audience will be key as detachable tablets aim to take a larger piece of the traditional PC market," the analyst says. "Windows and iOS already have solid detachable offerings and with the latest version of Android, Google will also have a horse in the race as they finally offer better multitasking support and added security features."

However, the present is not so bright-- 2016 tablet growth is to reach an all-time low of -11.5% on shipments of 183.4 million units. The shift to detachables will also affect the small (9-inch or smaller) tablet category, as IDC predicts small tablets will make 40% of 2020 shipments, down from 55% in 2016. Such decline is due to customers demanding larger screen sizes, as well as profit pressures caused by small tablets being generally offered at aggressive price points, leaving little room for revenues outside of either pure volume or Amazon-style platform play.

Regular "slate" tablets should also drop in popularity. According to the analyst, while slates hold 85% of 2016 shipments, the total will drop to 68% in 2020, with the majority of such devices heading towards emerging markets wanting for low cost computing devices.

Go IDC 2016 Tablet Tracker