Tablet Sales Down By 28%, Can This Market Survive?

Tablet computers have been around for years, however it wasn’t until Apple got into the market with the original iPad that it became a viable and successful market. We’ve seen plenty of competitors in the tablet marketplace since then, including the Motorola Xoom and the Huawei MediaPad.

However, as Nick Marshall over on Electricpig reports that the sales of tablets has been down throughout the first quarter of this year showing signs that this market could be struggling. After very strong sales during the 2010 Christmas period the sales were strong so this sudden decline is worrying for the industry.

One reason for this could be simply because it is no longer the buying season. Early on in the year consumers are content with what they received for Christmas and they aren’t looking to make big purchases. Early this year we saw the release of Apple’s iPad 2 as well as many other tablets since then, but the iPad 2 didn’t have any incredible features that required that people upgrade and once somebody has one tablet they don’t really feel the need for another.

Here’s the problem with tablets which was clear from before the tablet became popular, people don’t need a tablet computer. Unlike a computer, a tablet is not necessary in the home or in the workplace since most people would much rather sit down with a mouse and keyboard to check their mail or their social networks. Tablets are a one off luxury device that people would buy to compliment the other products that they have in their house and to have as an easy way to watch movies, check e-mail and surf the web.

Another reason for the decline in tablet sales is the high cost of 3G data plans. Computerworld.com reports that 3G tablets are slim because consumers don’t want to pay extra for expensive data plans. I DG Analyst Bob O’Donnell is quoted as saying “Sales of 3G tablets have been very slow. Tablets are a different animal than smartphones and are much more like a typical computer where you tend to sit in one place using Wi-Fi to work.”

Many people already pay extra to get mobile internet on their Smartphone, and they don’t want to pay extra for more data on their tablet. So is the tablet market dying? I don’t think so. There are still many wonderful tablets coming down the pipeline, as well as Apple’s eventual release of the iPad 3, and though sales may be low for a while they will probably pick up around the end of the year for the holiday buying season. Ultimately we’ll just have to wait and see whether this will remain viable for tech companies other than Apple.

Do you use a tablet computer? Is it worth paying the entry fee, or would you rather buy a small laptop instead? Let us know in the comments below.