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.


      • Teleread needs to improve it’s coverage of Apple. There is plenty to criticise if that’s what they want, but right now their marksmanship is a long way from Robin Hood.
        I love my iPad mini. Small, light, battery lasts forever. The only compelling reason to upgrade right now is for more storage. Perhaps Apple will innovate a compelling reason as well.
        Apple has made the iPad so good the upgrade cycle is much longer than usual.

  1. I think the slump in tablet sales more reflects no perceived reasons to upgrade to a new tablet. They do what people expect of them and no higher expectations exist. Sure a better screen or processor might be nice but not at the cost.

  2. I think a slump on the tablet market has to do with the cheap tablets not cutting it to run the latest and greatest apps (most still use Kit Kat) and the Ones that can run those apps are priced at $500. I picked up my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8″ for $250 now getting the upgrade Tab S is like $400, no tanks. As for ebooks? I’ve bought a dedicated ereader that offers a better experience than trying to get any of the tablet readers to render an ebook in something readable without any of the CSS changing all the colors, bolding half the text and such.

  3. What happened to all the people complaining that reading a book/magazine on a computer screen was like reading with a flashlight shining in their face? I doubt they all moved to E ink readers but then they must have moved to tablet “flashlights.” Am I off base in that assumption? (guess I am since since smart phones are ubiquitous you are still dealing primarily with backlit screens) Personally I always thought the flashlight complaint was a bit bogus. Having used backlit eReaders I just dialed the illumination down to 25% or so and never felt I suffered eye strain even after hours of reading.

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