As Apple reportedly gears up to deliver a smaller iPad Pro, it’s worth asking about the health of the tablet market.
Earlier this year, analytics firm IDC predicted that the tablet market fell 10.1 percent in 2015. Strategy Analytics had a similarly dire prediction, estimating the decline at 8 percent.
Even Apple, which traditionally dominated the tablet market with the iPad, has suffered in the Great Tablet Slump. The original iPad Pro, a 12.9-inch monster with a speedy A9X chip and peripherals such as a flexible keyboard, was intended to mitigate at least some of the tablet-market blues by targeting professionals.
Apple likely hopes that a smaller iPad Pro will end up appealing to a broader consumer market that wants things like tablet-enabled keyboards. Specialized features could help the iPad differentiate itself from “phablets” such as the iPhone 6S Plus, which many pundits believe have devastated the market for tablets (and mini-tablets in particular).
Given that cannibalization, perhaps the biggest hope for the market is that consumers and businesses begin treating tablets like PC replacements, which would ensure a steady stream of refreshes and upgrades for the foreseeable future. If that indeed becomes the trend, look for tablets to add more peripherals and under-the-hood power as time goes on.