For years, followers of the tech media have been seeing the same kind of headline over and over again: Tablet sales are shrinking. Last year, tablet shipments declined by 10.1 %. The fourth quarter of 2015 was the fifth quarter in a row to see a decrease year over year. While still millions of tablets are being sold, for the tech industry, the device category seems to be increasingly unattractive. Some even state that “Tablets are dead”. And because of that, counter-intuitively, the tablet belongs to the best affordable computing gadgets ever made. Not for the manufacturers and companies in the tablet business, of course. But for consumers as well as for the environment.
Apart from the rise of big-sized smartphones that cannibalize tablets, the long upgrade cycle of tablets is generally singled out as the main reason for the lack of growth in the tablet market. Simply put, if you buy a tablet, you won’t need to buy a new one for the next, say, 3 years. At least. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the upgrade cycle of a tablet is longer than an iPhone, probably between an iPhone and a PC. Smartphones are, on average, being replaced about every 2 years. But a tablet which was bought in 2013 still might seem totally acceptable to its owners even today.
It’s understandable from an industry perspective to find this characteristic unfortunate. But that should not matter from a consumer point of view. A gadget category which meets the demands of its owners well enough to eliminate the need for constant upgrades is a reason for celebration, not for grief. It’s good for the consumer, and it’s better for the environment, too.
The tablet is dead, long live the tablet. Literally.
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