Tablet shipments are set to rebound from their current slump by 2018, according to the latest data from IDC, but manufacturers shouldn't start popping the champagne just yet.
The same forecast - the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker - shows the rest of 2016 will not be good news for the tablet market, which is expected to reach an all-time low of -11.5% growth and shipments of 183.4 million units across Android, iOS and Windows devices.
The analyst house said manufacturers need to make devices that are attractive to businesses, rather than just relying on the consumer market, as popularity in that market segment begins to wane.
"Appealing to the commercial audience will be key as detachable tablets aim to take a larger piece of the traditional PC market," said senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani.
"Windows and iOS already have solid detachable offerings and with the latest version of Android, Google will also have a horse in the race as they finally offer better multitasking support and added security features."
Size will also have a big impact on tablet shipments. In 2016, IDC predicts 55% of devices shipped will have screens smaller than 9in, yet by 2020 these smaller slates will account for 40% or less of tablet shipments. This will have an impact on shifting tablets off the shelves.
"We see smaller slate tablets being offered at very aggressive price points, leaving little room for revenues outside of a pure volume or platform play like for Amazon for instance," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director at IDC.
"The price pressure combined with a healthier demand on larger screen sizes and detachable tablets will eventually result in an increased portfolio offering from tablet and PC manufacturers."
IDC's worldwide tablet market share forecast 2015-2020 shows Windows tablets really start to take off. While still the junior player, the OS will grow from 8.6% market share in 2015 to a predicted 11.3% this year and 19.3% in 2020.
This growth will come almost exclusively at the expense of Android tablets, which, while still the largest OS in terms of market share, will decline from 67.4% in 2015 to a predicted 66.2% in 2016 and 57.8% in 2020.
Apple's iOS, meanwhile, will remain fairly steady at 23.9% in 2015, 22.4% in 2016 and 22.9% in 2020.
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Jane McCallion is ITPro's deputy editor, specializing in cloud computing, cyber security, data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Deputy Editor, she held the role of Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialise in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.
Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.
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