The COVID-19 pandemic -- and the ensuing lock-down throughout the world -- has brought back a lot of things that had fallen a bit out of favor, like jigsaw puzzle family nights and drive-in movies. It's also given surprising new life to the tablet PC market, which cratered several years ago, but has come back to life, according to a new research report from Strategy Analytics.
The tablet craze of the early 2010s waned as smartphones became bigger and more powerful while (usually) retaining pocket-friendly dimensions. But if you don't need a device in your pocket because you're stuck at home, and you're spending hours working or learning at school remotely, then the larger screen a tablet provides becomes a valuable advantage again. As a result, Strategy Analytics says the tablet market is growing at the fastest rate we've seen since 2014.
Granted, that is expected to provide a mere 1-percent increase in tablet sales from 2019, according to the research firm's report, but it stems the tide of the five previous years' sales declines. Not surprisingly, the boost in tablet sales is accompanied by larger screen units overtaking smaller tablets for the first time in market share. Those models -- such as the Apple iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro tablets -- tend to be marketed as laptop replacements, sometimes including a keyboard accessory and/or digital stylus to enhance their productivity bonafides. Strategy Analytics forecasts that tablets with screens 10 inches or larger should continue to increase their share of the market, accounting for nearly two-thirds of tablet sales by 2025.
The pandemic will hopefully be long in the past by that time, which leads to the question: What kind of market will there be for tablets in 2025? Considering that Strategy Analytics suggests sales will "remain plateaued" over the next few years, this increase in interest is expected to be short-lived, especially when it comes to the slate form factor. A return to normality would mean a return to relying on our smartphones again for streaming outside the home, though Strategy Analytics predicts that tablets with detachable keyboards (so-called 2-in-1 devices) will continue to consolidate their share of the market at the expense of slates over the next few years.