A new article in Information Age by Chloe Green, entitled “The uncertain future of the tablet: a dying breed of device?” Tells the updated story of the decline of tablet sales in the face of rising large-screen smartphone adoption and the new popularity of laptops. But it also suggests a new way for the tablets to maintain relevance as reading devices if the manufacturers want to go there.
Chloe Green notes the usual causes instanced in the decline of tablets: the growth of large screen smartphones sales, the new resurgence of laptops and the positioning of tablets as a light-use shared home gadget rather than a dedicated productivity or media consumption device. You have to wonder in passing exactly how much Apple was to blame for this in its initial positioning of the iPad. Look at how long it took them to roll out the iPad Pro and something that looked like it could actually do serious work. But now that Apple has profited from the initial burst of bling, the form factor has become predictably commoditized. And the public has cottoned on to the fact that laptops and smartphones between them give a better value and versatility equation than tablets. Thank tablets for driving down the price of good laptops, fine. But that story is over and it won’t help tablets where they are now.
“Tablets need to clearly differentiate from both smartphones and laptops, providing users with a distinctive, personalised experience,” Chloe Green says. Why not as Amazon does? It’s obvious that one of the main areas where tablets may still score over a large-screen smartphone is simply screen size and reading experience. If manufacturers are still looking to differentiate in the segment, why not highlight this aspect of usage? This is probably exactly what Amazon was thinking of with the Kindle Oasis. The $50 Fire is clearly positioned as a generic commodity device, and is already eating up what’s left of that end of the market with the help of an unbeatable content provision back end. With the Kindle Oasis you have a much higher end device specifically tailored for quality e-reading. That could be a way for the rest of the tablet market to go. Or they could just give up on the space entirely and leave it to Amazon.