Is Need for Workplace Tablets Declining?

A lot of energy has been expended on bring your own device (BYOD) and what it means for the workplace. Much of that has centered around the use of tablets professionally, such as with iPads and Samsung Galaxies.

But now word comes that IT departments may not have to focus as much on tablets. Their popularity is waning, according to a new report by ecoATM via TechCrunch. ecoATM runs a nationwide network of electronics recycling kiosks.

The folks at ecoATM determined after a survey of 1,175 tablet users:

  • More than one quarter of respondents (27 percent) indicate they use their tablet less than they anticipated when initially purchased
  • Twenty-six percent report using their device less than three hours per week
  • Eight percent of tablet owners say they no longer use their device

So, why aren’t they using their tablets? For these reasons:

  • 60 percent indicate they prefer using a laptop instead
  • 26 percent say their smartphone does everything they need
  • Seven percent indicate their tablet is broken

It’s the second one that is probably most troubling for the tablet industry. There’s no longer a need to carry three devices when traveling, for example. With smart phones growing larger and running the same applications as tablets, it’s possible to accomplish the same goals.

That’s a view supported by in an article. “The shift away from tablets can likely be blamed in part on the growing size of smartphones: Owning a bigger smartphone means you might have less need for a tablet,” the article reports.

The Daily Telegraph also pointed to the fact that tablets aren’t evolving quickly enough. “One factor that some commentators also point to is the lack of innovation in hardware, which has prevented consumers from upgrading,” the article says. In effect, consumers are no longer seeing their tablets as vital. Once they lose that vitality, there is no longer a strong desire to bring them into the workplace. Plus, without them being upgraded, it’s difficult for them to stay current with newer tools being developed for laptop and smartphone use.

This seems to be a late-breaking trend. Even as late as the end of 2014, tablets were still seen as a valuable business tool. The TechCrunch article says tablet use was increasing in the workplace but was declining among consumers. What wasn’t defined was how the tablets were being used.

Think about tablet use in your workplace. Is it being used for consumer interaction? Or, do they make sense in lieu of smartphones for internal supply chain work? After all, it’s less expensive to have a tablet with WiFi capabilities than a smartphone with a data plan. Tablets are less bulky than laptops in factory settings, for example.

As one commenter to the article said, when it comes to work, PCs and laptops are still the best way to go. Some mentioned Bluetooth keyboards but that still appeals to only a small minority of users.

Yet Apple is not going to sit idly by and let the tablet market fade away. That’s according to an article. It says the Cupertino, California company is working with over 40 app developers to specifically develop apps that will work well in the business environment.

The article, which contradicts what I’m saying, says, “Evidence points to the notion that the workplace may be ripe for tablet penetration, especially when considering that iOS 9 is due to be released in fall of this year. A recent report by Forrester research said that 20% of all tablets used globally in 2018 would be by businesses.”

Yet is that funny math? Could the percent of tablets be increasing because consumer use is decreasing? In a static market for business use of tablets, growth will be seen if consumer tablet purchasing declines.

It’s an interesting trend to follow. Maybe you should hold off on evolving your “Bring Your Own Device” to work policies when it comes to tablets. Because they are not showing sales increase, your workers may have already hit their peak for business use of tablets.

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping,, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.