On the sixth anniversary of the Apple iPad’s debut, it appears that the tablet revolution predicted has fallen well short of expectations. In 2011, there were estimates that annual tablet shipments would be more than 300 million units by 2015.
Apple has sold more than 300 million iPads, but it’s taken six years to reach that mark. In fact, market research from International Data Corp. (IDC) shows that Apple only sold 50 million of the estimated 207 million units it shipped in 2015.
Bigger smartphones have proven to be a competitor with tablets. More than one billion of the devices were sold last year, many with large enough screens to make the purchase of a tablet unnecessary. In addition, consumers have shown they aren’t as willing to upgrade their tablet devices as often as their smartphones.
“I fit that demographic exactly: I bought an iPad Air in late 2013 that I still use daily and don’t anticipate an upgrade this year,” Arik Hesseldahl wrote in an article for re/code. “I will, however, probably upgrade my iPhone. I bought my last Mac in 2011.”
The other challenge for tablet computers is the popularity of detachables—tablets that are essentially a laptop with a removable touchscreen. One out of every five tables sold in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2015 was a detachable device.
“Detachables are proving so popular that IDC reckons by 2020 they’ll account for about one-fifth of the entire market for what it calls ‘client computing devices,’ which includes both tablets and PCs,” Hesseldahl said. “It may not amount to the radical revolution that the overly eager analysts of 2011 had called for, but it will do.”