The tech landscape of today is very different than it was only half a decade ago, prompting some prognosticators to wonder whether the tablet form factor will fade from the mobile device space. This is considering the fact that the iPad only jump-started the tablet craze a few years ago. The whole life cycle of new hardware has accelerated immensely in both the consumer and enterprise settings. It's all a lot for developers to keep track of when creating content that's meant to be displayed on mobile screens. It's time to consider whether change really is in the air and what the lasting legacy of tablets will be.
New ways to view content
A recent Daily Mail report on the current state of the tablet market highlighted the fact that when these devices entered the marketplace, they fundamentally changed the way users thought about consuming content. The source flashed back to the initial creation of the iPad, with Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs stating that it would represent a new and close relationship between device users and the apps they download. The Daily Mail also quoted Bernstein Research's Craig Moffet, who suggested at the time that there would be a new era of embedded media functionality, with text and video coming together.
As the news provider also indicated, Moffet's ideas have been borne out. The quality of mobile content today is high, with applications both native and Web-based offering positive experiences and ample chances for interaction. The end of the tablet era, if that is indeed what the sales slowdown indicates, will not change this detail. The devices tipped to replace tablets as a go-to for browsing and app access are large smartphones. The Daily Mail quoted analysis from industry-watcher Benedict Evans, who stated the past year has seen experts go from predicting smartphone ceilings to applying that assessment to tablets.
The source pointed to the "phablet" as the culprit in taking down tablet sales. If phones such as the iPhone 6 Plus give users all the screen size they want, these same consumers may decide they do not need a new tablet when it debuts - or at all. Since the large screen is the through-line, however, the trend of content that includes multimedia elements seems likely to continue unabated. Even a world without tablets would possess the kind of materials made popular by these devices. As long as content developers are cognizant of the change, they should be able to adapt easily.
The fight goes on
What about the manufacturers that have an active stake in selling tablets? If their plans succeed, the form factor may stay on shelves and in offices much longer than pessimistic estimates suggest. DigiTimes recently explained that some device-makers are trying to drive down the costs of their materials and others are betting on changes to the scale of devices to deliver better shipment numbers. If the iPad is currently considered too close to the size of the iPhone 6 Plus, what happens when the tablet is replaced by a 12-inch version with an extensive, high-resolution screen may determine the future of device use.