The 8”-10” tablet like the Apple iPad and its peers is facing competition from many different angles.
Firstly, it is considered a venerable portable computing device class that suits most reading tasks including Web browsing, social-network interaction, email management and the like along with casual gaming, video viewing and the like. In a lot of situations, there isn’t much need to upgrade to newer models, except if the idea is to purchase a newer model so someone else can use the existing tablet. This is very similar to the colour television set that was based on solid-state electronics where this device was brought to a point where it can serve most people’s needs effectively and reliably for a long time and manufacturers worked on ways to improve the higher end of the market.
This device is facing competition from the 5”-6” smartphone or “phablet” phone with these phones becoming the norm for a highly-portable reading device. They are displacing highly-compact smartphones like the original iPhones along with the 7” “coat-pocket” tablets like the iPad Mini. This is because their size is very similar to a pocket calculator of the high-end scientific or financial type which had a large surface area with plenty of buttons for direct access to the formulae and functions that mattered.
Another device that is causing competition to these tablets is the so-called “2-in-1” which becomes either a laptop computer or a tablet depending on how you fold over the keyboard or whether you attach a detachable keyboard. The 11” variants like the Microsoft Surface family offer a size that suits tablet use but may be too small for intense document-creation activity whereas the 13” variants may be too large to work as a personal tablet but earn their keep for creating documents. This is although some tablet users are using Bluetooth or USB keyboards including the tablet cases that come with integral keyboards with their tablets to speed up text entry.
There have been the doubters who thought these devices would flounder during the early years of mobile computing. One of these was Apple’s Tim Cook who described the 2-in-1s as crossbreeding a fridge and toaster in 2012 and another was the Dell Streak which was one of the first 5” phablets that was panned by consumers and critics in 2010. These were made at the time when the market wasn’t really ready for these classes of devices and was grappling with the platform smartphones and tablets.
Apple and Samsung are looking at exploring other market niches for their mobile-platform tablets while keeping venerable product categories alive. One area they are working on is to launch mobile-platform tablets that have a screen size of 13” or above. This may be seen as a way to snap at the heels of the 13” 2-in-1 of the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro ilk or the regular laptop computer where these computers are based on Windows or MacOS X which are “regular-computer” operating systems rather than mobile operating systems.
Other market niches worth exploring would include use in the business context including high-durability tablets for those doing construction / outdoors work. Similarly,tablets can be purposed to particular user groups like those of us who work in the graphics arts or those who enjoy advanced gaming. An example of this could be the Samsung Galaxy Tab S family with the AMOLED displays that excel on contrast making them fit for previewing photographs.