In 2014, we predicted that technology such as the iPad would be favoured over more traditional toys on Christmas lists. However, tablets will only see an 8% increase in worldwide sales in 2015, reaching 233 million units, estimated Gartner in a recent report. Why isn’t the global tablet market seeing the levels of growth it achieved in the last four years? There are a number of reasons.

Firstly, the lifetimes of tablets have extended. With software updates, any device can be upgraded to remain current. There is also a trend for tablets to be shared amongst family members.

Secondly, there has been little innovation or change with regards to hardware. There aren’t expected to be many physical changes to tablets as we know them, whilst mobile phones have evolved to carry out the same functions a tablet provides and more. Battery technology remains relatively stagnant, and battery life will remain at best around 10-12 hours. Perhaps also, the market is saturated – with even Tesco offering a value product, the Hudl.

That said, the number of tablet users worldwide is expected to soar past 1 billion. A recent study by researcher eMarketer projected that almost 15% of people worldwide will use a tablet in 2015 – more than double the percentage three years ago. Gartner has suggested that worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultra mobiles and mobile phones) for 2015 will reach 2.5 billion units, an increase of 3.9 percent over 2014.

New partnerships are expected to be announced leading to innovative apps that use personal data to tailor the user experience, whilst cognizant computing will continue to be nurtured. According to Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner, ‘cognizant computing is transforming personal data clouds into highly intelligent collections of mobile apps and devices’. This helps business to consumer companies to acquire deep insights into consumer’s preferences and daily lives, to assist in creating personalized services. More and more attention will be focussed on consumer experience, with increased devotion to apps and services rather than hardware itself. At the same time, the market for PC’s has stabilized. As we at Trustmarque suggested in a previous post, the PC is just the box – what matters is that the operating system enables a more effective and efficient way of working.

Tablets are also facing greater competition from big-screen smartphones, aka phablets, as well as other connected devices. “The smartphone market is becoming polarised between the high- and low-end market price points,” said Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner. However, 2014 saw the success of products such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which features a detachable keyboard. According to Microsoft, it’s ‘better than your laptop and better than your tablet’. The burgeoning popularity of hybrids geared towards professionals looks to continue this year. That said, the use of tablets such as the iPad for productivity as well as leisure time activities is another emerging trend, particularly since Microsoft Office apps for iPad, iPhone and Android became free of charge last year.

The rumoured iPad Pro could be a game changer – an iPad version of the Surface Pro 3 with a laptop-size screen and the ability to run more than one app onscreen at a time. Watch this space.