Are Consumers Feeling Tablet Fatigue?

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Consumers are buying tablets at a furious pace yet approximately two thirds of U.S. adults still don't own one according to a report from Pew Internet Research. Tablet makers such as Samsung Apple Amazon Microsoft and others are vying for those un tableted consumers and the market is now awash with a dizzying array of sizes features and price points. Such choice can mean it's a great time to be a consumer but some analysts warn that buyers may be wearying.

"There may be a bit of tablet fatigue," said Mike Feibus, principal analyst, TechKnowledge Strategies. "Tablet development has slowed; it has plateaued."

That fatigue may be attributable, in part, to a market that was once defined by the Apple iPad moving to a new phase of fragmentation with multiple operating systems, app ecosystems and use cases.

"We've got kid tablets, we've got TV tablets, we've got ruggedized tablets, we've got tablets that just stick on the wall," said Ben Bajarin, principal at tech analyst firm Creative Strategies. "We are seeing this market segment."

As the market splits into segments, new niches are emerging, pulling consumers in a variety of directions.

"The tablet market is still so nascent," said Geoff Blaber, vice president research, CCS Insight. "And yet we've seen such mass commoditization so quickly I still think there is a lot of room for further shifts in terms of where the center of gravity lies in that market."

At CES last year, according to Blaber, consumers saw an "avalanche of new tablets" shifting from 9-inch and 10-inch form factors down to 7-inch sizes, but that may change.

"In the near term, that isn't going to change," he said. "The price points and a lot of the volume have shifted down to that 7-8 inch category. Two years out, a small proportion may start move back up to the larger screen sizes if we see this clamor and desire for the 2 in 1 proposition."

The number of Americans who own a tablet increased 25 percent from 2012, according to another Pew research report, pointing to the potential opportunity for device makers. One analyst sees the rush of new products creating opportunity for consumers as well.

"We want more unique products," said Jon Peddie, president, Jon Peddie Research. "One of the reasons that the tablet has been so successful in the marketplace is because it gave us an opportunity. Before the tablet came along, our only choice was a PC."

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