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Windows-based devices predicted to dominate detachable tablet market

Microsoft popularized the detachable tablet device with its first Surface product in 2012, which connected a touchscreen tablet with a hardware keyboard or cover. Now the research firm IDC predicts that Windows-based tablets will dominate this growing market in the next few years.

IDC's numbers state that overall tablet shipments will see a 5.9% drop in 2016 compared to 2015. However, it predicts that tablet shipments will go back up again in the next few years, fueled by the growing use of detachable tablets, which it says will go up from 16.6 million shipments in 2015 to 63.8 million in 2020. Moreover, detachable tablets that use Windows will go up as well, from 53.3% of the market in 2016 to 74.6% by 2020.

IDC states:

"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's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "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. 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, we believe Windows remains the logical choice for detachable products."

59 Comments
  • This is interesting news, if the tablet/detachable market keeps growing and windows manages to capture a large share, i can now see the use of universal apps and coupled with laptop n desktop sales, maybe mobile sales will not be such a large consideration in order to bring the last few of those big titles to the windows platform. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • I continually wonder who follows these predictions or puts any weight whatsover in them. I mean, a broken clock is right twice a day, right? Look back and see what they said about Windows Phone. It would be harder to be more wrong.
  • Not sure how that analogy works there tbh, please explain
  • If a clock is broken, it will be stuck on whatever time it was when it stopped. Let's say it was 4:20 (why not, right?) when the clock stopped working. Everyday, at 4:20 in the morning and 4:20 in the afternoon, theclock will be displaying the correct time. Thus, it is right two times a day, even though it's broken.
  • I'm going to go out on a limb and guess the poster understood the analogy, but instead was wondering how it applied to projected tablet sales.
  • That was what I thought too. It wasn't about tablet sales, it was about the company making the predictions.
  • Lol I know the analogy, I just didn't know how it applied to this article.
  • @infinitelurker The thing about the detachable segment is that empirical data show it is indeed a growing segment. OEMs are embracing the category and making more detachable PCs and non-Windows competitors are following suit (Apple:iPad Pro and Google:Pixel C). The industry is moving in the direction pioneered and led by Microsoft, the Surface and pretty much coalescing around the advantages Windows 10 brings the form factor. As long as the industry continues to embrace the form factor Windows 10 and the UWP have the industry advantage. I believe this prediction has a great deal of merit. Of course no one knows the future. Anything can happen, but given the obvious trend, Microsoft's UWP and Windows 10 that conforms to tablet and PC mode. I think Microsoft just might win this one.:-) -------------------------------
    Jason L Ward @JLTechWord
  • Yeah, I get that, but the smart-phone segment was growing back in 2009 when they were making predictions for Windows Phone, no? I was just commenting on these predictions, how wildly wrong they have been, and casually wondering who might actually make decisions based on them.   I understand it is 'part of the game' for the corporations. They need companies to believe that their stuff is going to be the 'next big thing' in order to try to get buy-in. 
  • Ergo, back to the future rings a bell here Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Yes, the smartphone segment was growing back in 2009:-) But Windows Phone was not a leader defining that category. As a matter of fact in 2009 Windows Phone 7 hadn't yet made its "big" splash on the scene yet. Apple and Android we ruling the roost from 2007 onward. And though there has been industry appeal for the fresh and slick UI Windows Phone has brought to the table. Most analysis haven't seen Windows Phone bring the type of transformative impact to the smartphone category, that Windows 10 and Surface have brought to the category of 2-in-1s/detachables. We may be seeing the hints of such a transformative impact now with Continuum and devices like HP Elite X3. It's un uphill battle with phone. But I think 2-in-1s success will help phones. How Windows 2-in-1s are setting the stage for the Surface Phone: http://m.windowscentral.com/how-windows-2-1s-are-setting-stage-surface-p... -------------------------------
    Jason L Ward @JLTechWord
  • It has to do with forecasting techniques, which is what organizations use to "predict" future growth and sales. Because forecasting is based on past data, if the trend is positive, then the forecast will be positive. The problem with a forecast is it extrapolates, unlike prediction which interpolates data. How does this apply to the phone segment? Tremendous growth existed for the smartphone market, and many took this to mean growth in all areas. Microsoft thought the tremendous growth would branch out to Windows Phone (which it did for a while).
  • Android invented the detachable market and has been active in the space since 2011, rather than following suit.
    That being said I do think that the surface pro 4 is an amazing hybrid, and I am glad I purchased mine.
  • What Android based tablet with the detachable keyboard started the category.  BTW Not slamming you, I am genuinely curious.  (I know strange)
  • You lost me at 'Android invented'. ;) Just kidding! Yes, I'm curious to know too, which tablets are you referring to. Posted from the Windows Central app Built for Windows 10
  • I would like to know the same as well ... Which android detachable device he is talking about!! ____________________________________
    Twitter : @YashHarf
    Instagram : @YashHarf
  • Plenty of aftermarkets made keyboards for iPads and Android tablets but none had Office or could run x32 programs. Detachable hardware isn't big deal, but it's the productivity package Win10 is bringing in this segment. Promoting W10M 8-bit tile art
  • 2 in 1's are growing....inside of a shrinking market (PCs).   Due to even more increasing of the replacement cycle, the market for PCs is still declining. PCs aren't going away, but there needs to be *a lot* more consolidation of the PC OEMs, so that the whole segment can at least stay level.  Right now too many stock units are chasing too few customers. Outside of the enterprise, the desktop/laptop is the new living room TV or washer dryer: you hope to keep it for ten years, and you only replace it if it breaks.   There's still a market for TVs and washer dryers and dish washers, but it's also not what you'd call a growth market.
  • To be fair though, nobody ever considered that developers would not come in the early days. We all know that if the developers would have we would be in a better position. Not world changing position, but higher than 3% for sure.
  • I believe that Windows can dominate the detachable market. Its just that it is unlikely to reach the numbers IDC is predicting. 1)IDC has very poor track record with its predictions 2) its prediction is based on tge assumption that Apple and Google will jist stand there and watch MS take the market without any meaningful action or effort.
  • Surface is a fantastic product.  
  • yeah, I just wish Microsoft could sell it worldwide, I know a lot of people that would buy it here. I have the 1st gen Pro and would upgrade if I could.
  • If 2-in-1 get that prediction, then Windows 1x Mobile will be just fine considering Msft pushing Universal App.
  • Microsoft needs to execute fast, as even while being on the right track, you get run over if you are too slow.
  • You can see that happening, especially that Apple and the gang has followed Microsoft's lead.
  • I would have thought this was a given. By that's just me
  • I love the portability meets functionality aspect of my three Surface 3 devices I currently own, but Microsoft has to get their heads in the game on the Firmware/Software side of things. You buy an iPad and it just simply works for the next 3-5 years. You buy a Surface and you have to continuously update/re-apply updates/refresh/reset due to firmware bugs. Yes, the iPad is a useless child's toy compared to the full blown Surface PC, but that is not what Consumer Electronics is all about. Mass Market devices have to be relatively maintenance free to really take off. I would love to see Microsoft go on a hiring spree and turn their Devices division into a true Apple competitor.
  • I understand what you're saying, but it's not quite accurate. iOS 6, for example, was updated 9 times in 16 months. iOS 7: 7 times in 7 months. iOS 8: 6 times in a year and iOS 9 has been updated 5 times in 5 months with 9.3 currently in beta. That's better than an update every other month to patch bugs and security holes for the last 4 versions. So no, the iPad does not "just work" for 3-5 years after purchase, but the perception that it does is out there.
  • ...and the (general) tech press seem very forgiving on iOS issues, whereas both Android and Windows get slated to death for any bug (minor or catastophic)!
  • I believed the OS from Windows will catch with the trends and consumers likes. It look more innovative than the others despite the initial buggy.
  • When the surface first llunched, both Apple and Google made funnof it. And now they're the one copying it.
  • lets hope they keep it to full windows not the crappy windows 10 mobile tablets
  • Windows RT was brilliant. I'd like to see Windows 10 ARM tablets. I'm quite sure I can live off windows store apps alone at this point. They just need landscape mode (or a homescreen similar to phone continuum) and split screen multitasking (at least).
  • Yeah, I have high hopes for this rumored renaissance in the form of Windows 10 RT. Windows RT 8.1 in a Surface 2 is damn solid, a joy to use in every aspect.
  • What tablet runs Windows 10 Mobile?
  • several chinese tablets and some of known brands 
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBrhLkOrdlM
  • The Alcatel Pixie...its an 8" tablet running Windows 10 Mobile: https://youtu.be/miiZ_5wpwgg -------------------------------
    Jason L Ward @JLTechWord
  • Waiting for your analysis on this report in "Windows Phone isn't dead part 3" ____________________________________
    Twitter : @YashHarf
    Instagram : @YashHarf
  • Thanks man. :-) Actually I wrote a piece back in December about the affects of the rise of 2-in-1s on Windows Phone.
    "How Windows 2-in-1s are setting the Stage for the Surface Phone" I posted the link above in a previous comment. IDC has become bolder in their statements about the growth of 2-in-1s, and this latest report from them, because of the tone, is likely going to have a greater impact on reporting in the blogosphere than previous reports that have made similar predictions, with less specificity in the past. But they've been building up to this for months. But, yes, I did offer an analysis on how the rise if 2-in-1s will help Windows phone :-) -------------------------------
    Jason L Ward @JLTechWord
  • I had a Surface 2 and it was awful. Constant crashes and it would hard-lock on me when I unlocked it. I sent it in for replacement and got another unit with the same problems, as well as CONSTANT display driver crashes even after multiple factory resets. Finally sold the second unit on eBay. Surface 3 is an entirely different story, I've had one since launch last May and its been amazing with almost no problems.  
  • Until apple truly enters this market and dominates it..... :). And of course smartphone share will pretty much remain where it is so no, this is no "sign" that W10M will remain anything but a tiny niche of the market.
  • You mean like the iPad pro is dominating?? LOL!!! Let me know what other stupid predictions you have. I'll bet the opposite.
  • The iPad Pro outsold *all* of the Surface devices combined.
  • You are right, it outsold a specific brand but it didn't outsell all Windows 2-in-1 devices. Throwing out the number of iPad Pros sold in its first quarter in the market when it's still new and exciting versus a product line that has already been available for a few years and has competition within its own ecosystem is not a very good argument. Rxc13's point still stands and Apple is going to have to work very hard to match the value of a Windows 2-in-1 since they are determined to keep iOS and OSX separate.
  • ....especially when the customers realise they have effectively purchased a second iPad simply with a keyboard that they could have basically purchased themselves as an accessory... ....and can't really do anything with it that they couldn't before. Once burned... twice shy... though, I don't know if that applies when you're the type of person that buys ANYTHING that their brand-of-choice releases.
  • Yeah it did, at Chrismas time. ​a Toy, not a Tool, in fact ​
  • Aren't these the same cats that predicted Windows phone would surpass iPhone about the same time period?
  • But MS ruined it with Windows 8 and 'kind of' Universal Apps... Let's hope for the best going forward. ____________________________________
    Twitter : @YashHarf
    Instagram : @YashHarf
  • I've come back in time to tell you all Windows Central users that the future is not set.  There is no fate but what me make for ourselves...
  • Cortana: I'll be back.
  • The detachable market is cool and all, but I really hope to see the return of the pinwheel/ferriswheel style convertible. I have a 2nd gen Dell XPS12 with this design and it is absolutely fantastic! Certainly not for everyone, but I work in schools and transition between laptop and tablet mode a lot (probably 20+ times a day) and this is a very fast easy way to transition without having to worry about messing up my track pad and keyboard, or having weird airflow issues, or breaking the dock connector, or loosing a base, etc. etc. etc.
    I totally get why it won't be mainstream, too. I mean, it makes a much bulkier heavier laptop to do it right, and does not look as elegant. But it is sad to see this form factor going away entirely. With some of the new bezel designs I bet they could cram an XPS13 in this kind of form factor without issue... that would be beautiful! But will never happen.
  • Read this yesterday and hope they're right as I love MS's surface line but IDC is just awful at predictions. Case in point, they predicted Windows phone to surpass iPhone market share by 2015: http://www.networkworld.com/article/2201489/smartphones/windows-phone-7-...
  • Well, it's pretty obvious, when you have a Windows 10 detachable (convertible, meh), you have a full Windows 10 computer AND a tablet. With Android or especially IOS (I'll repress a laugh), you still just have a tablet with a keyboard.
  • Eh, whatevs.   IDC has gotten more wrong than it has right. Anybody remember that they predicted that Windows Phones would be one of the top two platforms by this stage? Not sure why anybody still listens to these goons.
  • Yeah we need cheaper versions of surface books
  • Asus makes cheap surface books.
  • IDC nah..... They are rarely spot on.
  • Windows will always be the logical choice.
  • Good news, the iPad Pro momentum is now vanished, I was afraid iPad Pro would get too much attention from design software giants like Autodesk and Adobe, but with marketshare dominated by Intel x86 they won't spend a penny on ARM in the future strategy.  Design software is till going to be dominated by Windows and OS X in the next 5 years.