Tablet shipments will dip 8.1 percent to 211.3 million units in 2015, according to the latest Quarterly Tablet Tracker data from IDC.
The research firm's reports have been decidedly grim about the outlook for traditional tablets, but momentum in the category has not stalled completely.
IDC expects that 2-in-1 devices, or tablets with detachable keyboards, will represent a growing portion of total tablet shipments. Apple, Google and Microsoft have already introduced detachable tablets to compete with PC makers such as Dell and HP.
"The launch of sub-$100 detachables, and platform innovation being driven by competition will drive the detachables segment to double in size in the next year, recording more than 75 percent growth compared to 2015," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets at IDC, in a statement.
The transition to detachable tablets will also accelerate the growth of Windows and the much-needed turnaround for Apple's iPad device line, IDC said.
IDC senior research analyst for mobile devices Jitesh Ubrani sees the iPad Pro as Apple's only opportunity to gain tablet market share in the coming years as it targets both enterprise and prosumer audiences.
Windows-based devices -- slates and detachables combined -- will more than double market share by 2019, Ubrani said.