A while back I wrote about how I inherited my son's Kindle Fire and the joys of accessing my digital newspaper subscription on my Samsung Galaxy Tab. While it was a novelty to have two tablets to play with, I quickly found it was a burden keeping my documents on both devices and switched largely to using the newer, more modern Galaxy Tab. Even that has somewhat fallen by the wayside; as I've gone on several trips this summer I've found I rely almost exclusively on my laptop - which has the full physical keyboard I prefer - and smartphone, which is always with me thanks to its portability.
This seems to be part of a larger trend. I recently wrote about ecoATM, a kiosk available in various locations which accepts unwanted mobile devices and pays cash for them immediately (ecoATM reports they just collected their five millionth device, in fact). The folks at ecoATM supplied me with some interesting new data about tablet usage - and the lack thereof - which I felt was worthy of discussion.
(Graphic provided by ecoATM based on a study conducted by Edelman Berland between May 5-11, 2015, and polled 1,175 tablet owners in the US. The margin of error for the survey is ±2.9%)
A spokesperson for EcoATM said, "Tablet shipments are on a steady decline and at the same time, tablet trade-ins are on the rise." 57% of tablet owners have only one tablet in their household, while 41% have 2-5 and 2% have 6 or more. The data regarding decreased tablet shipments comes from IDC (International Data Corporation) which stated: "Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market's inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2% growth."
Some vendors did better than others; Apple held over 28% of the tablet market share at the end of 2014 (yet still saw a decline in shipped units) Lenovo was the only large vendor to report an increase in tablet shipments, and Amazon's tablet line was hit the hardest, hammered by an almost -70% growth level from 2013 to 2014. However, it's important to note that the Apple iPad 2 and iPad mini were collected more than any other tablets.
TechCrunch agrees with ecoATM's findings, and said, "tablet sales have plateaued" earlier this month, but pointing out that tablets still hold a critical edge in business. This matches a report I wrote for Tech Pro Research last year which found that "tablet use in the workplace is ever-increasing, showing how quickly companies are evolving to meet new trends." The report was based upon a study which discovered that access to email/internet/calendaring and taking notes were the most popular business tablet functions and Sales, IT support and Administration departments benefited the most from tablets. Therefore, tablet decline may be more prevalent amongst consumers.
Intrigued by the doubling of tablet trade-ins from early 2014 to early 2015, ecoATM sought to identify what has changed in tablet owner perspectives. Data from a survey they conducted seems to indicate a disparity between initial expectations and eventual tablet usage. In fact, more than one quarter of respondents (27 percent) indicated they use their tablet less than they anticipated when initially purchased.
The survey also points to utility as a primary reason for why tablet usage may be declining. However, equipment failure also plays a role. Of the tablets and cell phones collected, a higher percentage of tablets traded in are broken; one quarter of all tablets traded in are in non-working condition.
Why are Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama showing the highest rate of tablet trade-ins? Well, that's open for interpretation. Data analysis doesn't always guarantee finding a needle of an answer in a haystack of questions, but the fact that these three states have among the highest poverty levels may have something to do with it; tablets may be getting turned into much-needed cash.
What do you think about tablet usage? Do you find you use your tablet less than before? Is tablet usage more or less prevalent in your business? Let us know in the comments section below!
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.