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3/8/2016
01:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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IDC: Windows To Surpass Android, iOS In Detachable Tablets

Shifting tastes in tablets will lead more people to buy detachables, giving Microsoft the appeal it needs to catapult Windows ahead of Google Android and Apple iOS in the category, says IDC.

Windows 10 PCs, Tablets, Hybrids Take MWC Spotlight
Windows 10 PCs, Tablets, Hybrids Take MWC Spotlight
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

The tablet market is looking at a sea change as professionals and consumers alike realize that slates aren't always ideal for productivity. Slates will slowly cede ground to detachables, which are already showing traction, according to IDC. Moreover, the detachable form factor will benefit Microsoft far more than it benefits Apple or Google.

Tablet shipments around the world are expected to drop about 6% during 2016, compared to 2015, with total numbers reaching 195 million units. IDC believes the market will pick up again thanks to the increasing appeal of detachables, a hybrid category within the larger tablet space.

Devices such as the Apple iPad Pro, Google Pixel C, and Microsoft Surface fall into the detachables category thanks to their hardware support for keyboards. These flexible pieces of hardware can behave like PCs or tablets, depending on the circumstances, and offer a more rounded experience. (Apple is widely expected to show off a smaller iPad Pro on March 21.)

During 2016, IDC expects to see Android account for 18.2% of the detachable market, while Apple will account for 28.5%, and Microsoft will account for 53.3%. These numbers are strictly for the detachable segment, and not the larger tablet market as a whole.

(Image: Michal Krakowiak/iStockphoto)

(Image: Michal Krakowiak/iStockphoto)

"Everyone in the industry recognizes that traditional personal computers like desktops and notebooks will potentially be replaced by detachables in the coming years and this is why we will see a lot of new products being introduced this year," explained Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director of tablets for IDC.

For example, the recent Mobile World Congress trade show saw the debut of several new detachables, such as the Huawei MateBook. The MateBook resembles an iPad, but runs Windows 10 and works with a stylish, leather-bound keyboard for pecking out documents. Alcatel, too, showed off the Alcatel Plus 10 for road warriors. The fact that these devices run Windows and not Android is no accident.

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After flooding the market with inexpensive tablets between 2012 and 2015, hardware makers have cooled off on the slate. Further, the visibility and utility of Microsoft's Surface line of devices is clear to IT pros and consumers alike.

"This momentous shift in form factor will bring along the first significant impact of Windows-based devices that the tablet market has seen," said Ryan Reith, program director with IDC. "Windows 10 seems to be making headway in both the PC and tablet markets, mainly driven by devices with larger screen sizes. Despite the free licensing on products under 9 inches the growth for Windows-based tablets will be primarily on devices with displays between 9 and 13 inches."

The shift in size in notable. Apple's 9.7-inch iPad largely defined the modern tablet market, but Android makers were quick to seize on the 7- to 9-inch range for their hardware during the initial rush. As phablets have become more popular, interest in small tablets has waned. Apple seems to have seen the writing on the wall. It debuted the iPad Pro late last year with a 12.9-inch screen. As beautiful as the iPad Pro's hardware is, iOS remains to be a limiting factor. IDC sees this as a liability for Apple.

"Until we see a day where touch is introduced for Mac OS X and inroads are paved to bring Android and Chrome more closely aligned," continued IDC's Reith, "we believe Windows remains the logical choice for detachable products."

IDC's predictions for the tablet market bear out this opinion. The firm, in its analysis, believes Windows will hold 74.6% of the detachables category come 2020, while Apple's share will fall to 7.2%, and Android's will remain steady at 18.1%.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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sergy12
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sergy12,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/8/2016 | 7:14:49 PM
Re: What's a detachable tablet?
It is a good thing but i am not surethat it will be work good.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
3/8/2016 | 1:39:30 PM
What's a detachable tablet?
Figuring out what these categories mean isn't so simple. While the Surface Pro requires a tablet to anything serious, the iPad does not. Comparing the two as both being detatchable tablets isn't a real comparison. It's true that Apple added this, but it isn't required nearly as much as it is for the Surface Pro. I'm typing this right now on my iPad Pro using the on screen keyboard, and always do. It works very well. I use AutoCad 360 as well as a number of productivity apps, including Word, without a problem. It's much more difficult doing that through Windows on the Surface Pro. I know because I've used those tablets, the 3, and now the 4. I also don't need the stylus unless I want to use it for drawing apps and the like, for which it's great. But you really need the stylus, at least, using Windows on the Surface Pro. In addition, when has IDC, or Gardner, for that matter, ever been right in their predictions? According to both, Windows sales should have begun a rise over three years ago, and Win Phone should have a marketshare of 20% worldwide. What isn't ever mentioned in articles such as this, where IDC or Gardner are quoted, is that Microsoft is a very big client of these firms, and the stated objective of those firms, as seen on their websites, it to further the fortunes of their clients. No surprise that they struggle to make Microsoft look better than it is, until they no longer can.
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