IDC: Tablet decline will hurt Android, benefit Windows

Despite the popularity of new large tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and most especially the Apple iPad Pro, market analysts International Data Corporation, more popularly known as IDC, observes and predicts a continuing decline in tablet shipments this quarter, continuing three previous consecutive quarters of decline. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your platform of choice, that's not the complete picture in years to come. The IDC also predicts a change in trends, with the market transitioning from standalone tablets over to detachable hybrids.

Gone are the days when, under the prodding of the late Steve Jobs, tablets were merely seen as content consumption devices. Users have started demanding more and more from their tablets, to the point that the boundaries between laptops and tablets with keyboards are starting to blur. With the cannibalization of the small tablet market by phablets, tablets are starting to shift to a new form factor of sorts.

Alternatively called 2-in-1 tablets or hybrids, these devices carry both the portability of their tablet heritage as well as the productivity of their laptop inheritance. In many cases, these devices come in detachable tablet and keyboard docks, though some remain in a unified body with the ability to bend into different positions. IDC predicts that these will be the tablets of the future and that this segment will grow by as much as 75% in 2016 compared to this year.

Part of the change in that trend is a shift in user focus when it comes to tablets. These devices will be used more and more for productivity purposes more than just consumption. This productivity trend also has an impact on which tablets sizes and platforms will dominate the market. Tablets between 7 to 9 inches are hardly suitable for such activities and will there for see a marked decline, from recorded 57.7% this year to a 43.0% percent forecast by 2019. In contrast, sizes between 9 and 13 inches are almost perfect, while 13 to 16 inches, though unwieldy, will also more than double its share.

In terms of platforms, it shouldn't be surprising that IDC predicts Windows will snatch a bigger market share by 2019, almost 20%. Although iOS is still primarily a mobile platform, Apple's thrust with the iPad Pro would also see it thrive in this predicted growing market. These growths will come at the expense of Android, however, who will continue to see a decline in its market share in the next few years.

Of course, these are just forecasts made by IDC, based on the current trend when it comes to tablet forms and use cases. A lot of things can happen in four years that could make it all moot. That said, it does paint a picture of a market in transition that could be a bit more exciting than its current state today.