There’s No More Room for Tablets
In early 2010, Steve Jobs took the stage at a special Apple event to give a keynote that would change the history of consumer electronics. There, he posed a question that introduced a whole new line of products: the iPads. He wanted to know if there was room for a new category of devices that existed between the laptop and the smartphone. Back then, there was enough room for these tablets to exist between the two devices that we use daily. A little over a half a decade later, and there is no room for tablets.
Why There’s No Room
It’s a little surprising to see a product category that was slated to be so popular hit it’s peak and then drop like a sack of potatoes. Sadly, that’s what happened with tablets. There has to be a reason why this third category can’t exist anymore. The 6-year-old product category is dying because of big phones and small laptops.
Back in 2010, when the first iPad was announced, iPhones had 3.5-inch display sizes. Even Android phones(which tend to be a little bigger than iPhones) had display sizes that were 4 inches or less. It seemed quite logical to have a 9-inch device to go along side your 3.5-inch smartphone.
Now, the average screen size is about 5 inches, with Apple’s iPhone 6s coming in at 4.7 inches and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 coming in at 5.1 inches. Even larger phones, which have gotten the nickname phablets, can have screen sizes that are from 5.5 to 6 inches, almost double the size of previous phones.
Not only have phone sizes changed, but the way we use our phones have changed. Before, the main thing that we were doing on our phones included calling, texting and a little bit of social media. Nowadays, on top of calling, texting, and social media, our phones have replaced our TVs, newspapers, books, and more. Instead of using tablets(that some of us don’t even have), we just use our phones, because after all they’re big enough. Why spend an extra $200-$500 on something that we don’t even need?
In 2010, the average laptop was anywhere from 3–6 pounds. As they had been for years before, laptops 6 years ago were often thick and heavy, making them hard to carry around. The form factor of previous laptops made those laptops difficult to carry around and use for content consumption, so people didn’t. For that reason, tablets easily slid in between the tiny phones and the huge laptops. 9 inches was the perfect size for a device. It was definitely big enough to use but small enough to carry around.
Soon after 2010, the parts within laptops got smaller, allowing manufacturers to make smaller devices that had the same overall power than their predecessors. That was when Apple’s Macbook Air really started to gain popularity, prompting other laptop manufacturers to follow suit. Thus began a race to make the smallest, most powerful laptop they could. After a few generations of hard work, manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Apple delivered small laptops that they could really be proud of
After the thin-and-light “ultrabooks” of today began to become popular, the use case of laptops changed. Since they were now small enough. Laptops could be taken more places, allowing them to be used for productivity on the go, watching movies, browsing the internet, checking email, and many more of the things that tablets were supposed to be really good at.
The Death of Tablets
Tablets aren’t quite dead yet, but the product category is slowly but surely depleting until the only thing left will be the 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrids that are really a category in and of itself. Apple, Samsung, and other popular manufacturers are attempting to boost tablet sales, but I’m not quite sure if tablets can be revived. The market has changed, and now with the introduction of an array of big phones and small laptops, tablets are dying. Not many people need them anymore, so not many people buy them anymore.