The world of tech may have reached peak tablet – that was the message at Deloitte’s TMT Predictions event in Manchester this morning.
Over the course of 2017, the business advisory firm expects fewer than 165m tablet computers to be sold worldwide, which is a 10 per cent drop on 2016.
Once heralded as the end of the PC, sales have been in steady decline for the past three years and the touchscreen devices are now less popular than PCs and smartphones.
Sales of 165m at the end of 2017 would represent just two thirds of those in 2014.
There are numerous reasons why sales of these devices are weak. Since the arrival of tablets, smartphones have become bigger and laptops lighter, making them both viable alternatives.
Although, in the UK, tablets are popular with children under 10, they are less so when they become teenagers.
But the biggest challenge of all is that there is no compelling use case for these devices – across a range of online activities, tablets have their fans, but there is no single activity where they are the preferred device.
Paul Lee, head of Deloitte TMT research said: “There are three consumer devices that are leading tablets by a large margin: TVs, smartphones, and computers. It seems unlikely that the tablet will ever displace these devices.”
In the UK, around 95 percent of homes have a TV set, and it’s watched for about 3 hours a day on average.
Another 95 percent of people have access to a desktop or laptop, and daily usage is over 2 hours.
Just over 80 percent have access to a smartphone, and non-voice usage is an hour and three-quarters a day.
In contrast, tablet access is only 63 percent, and daily use is 49 minutes. The data in other developed countries shows similar levels of penetration and usage for tablets compared to the other ‘big three’ consumer devices.