After years of decline is the Android tablet making a comeback?

I’ve owned a few Android tablets over the years including a couple of Samsung tablets and a Google Nexus. In fact, I still own a Samsung tablet, which I use on occasion, but it’s fair to say I don’t use it as much as I once did.

When originally launched they were really popular and Android tablet sales rocketed. Tablets were available before the iPad and Android tablets came along. However, most of these run on Windows and were pretty ugly and super bulky, which meant they never really took off.

It was the launch of the iPhone and Android phones that followed, which gave us a taste of using a device with no buttons. You interacted with the device by touching the screen, so no buttons were needed. It was the iPhone that bought this type of technology to the masses.

The iPad and Android tablets soon followed

We could not get enough of our new mobile phones with a touchscreen display. This saw a huge rise in the popularity of mobile phones, as using a touchscreen phone felt much more satisfying. It also saw a huge change in websites, as many of them at the time didn’t work too well with mobiles. As soon as many of the popular websites started to work well with touchscreen phones. It was obvious we couldn’t get enough of them.

A tablet from the 1990s
A tablet from the 1990s long before we heard of the iPad and Android tablets

Tablets were soon released by Apple using the same OS experience users had with their iPhones. At the same time, many other manufacturers started releasing tablets running on Android OS. It was the ability to use a tablet without having to learn a new OS that helped with their popularity. If you owned an Apple or Android phone, you would feel right at home using a tablet, as they run on the same Operating System (OS).

It’s fair to say the initial success of tablets was due to people who already owned a phone wanting the same experience with a larger display. It was the case that many tech lovers would own both a mobile phone and a tablet.

The first decline in tablet use

After the novelty had worn off, and the fact people were upgrading to new phones every couple of years. Consumers were not prepared to spend extra money updating their outdated tablets. It was simply too expensive for many people to keep upgrading both their phones and tablets.

Also, new phones were being released with larger displays. This meant people had to seriously consider whether they could justify owning both devices. The fact that mobile phone displays were now available with a six-inch display or even bigger. Meant anyone who really enjoyed the tablet experience could simply buy a phone with a larger display.

Some started to replace their computers with tablets

Although many who invested in a new mobile phone every couple of years may have decided they could do without a tablet. There were many others who started to replace their computers with a tablet. Again, the main reason for this was that tablets were much easier to use than a computer.

PCs ditched in favour of a tablet
Many people ditched their PCs in favour of the tablet

Especially the case for anyone who owned a Microsoft Windows computer. Not only can an MS Windows computer be difficult to understand for the nontech-savvy type. They are an absolute nightmare for the majority of people when updates fail or the computer starts getting slower and slower over time. This is a sad fact about MS Windows computers, which is why I stopped using them for most tasks many years ago.

There were also many people who bought a tablet but had not previously used a computer to a huge extent. As soon as people realised you could use social media, book holidays, and surf the internet on a tablet. It was obvious that tablets were here to stay, even if overall sales started to decline.

Google launched the Chromebook

In 2011 Google launched the Chromebook, which runs on ChromeOS. An operating system that is incredibly lightweight. The benefits of using a Chromebook are that they are fast, easy to use, and secure. All the things that many Microsoft users wanted before ditching their MS computers for the much easier-to-use tablet.

Although many people were now enjoying what a tablet could offer. There were many of us who needed something more. Tablets are great for internet surfing, social media, YouTube, Netflix, and Android games. Where they fail is when you need an actual keyboard, so you can be more productive. I use my Pixelbook Go Chromebook on a daily basis, and I absolutely love it.

Pixelbook Go Chromebook
My Pixelbook Go Chromebook

You simply can’t beat a computer with a keyboard and trackpad for getting certain tasks done. Also, you can do things such as typing and many other tasks much more quickly on a Chromebook than on an Android tablet. The Pixelbook Go has an excellent keyboard, which is one of the reasons why I bought it. You just can’t get the same experience using a tablet when it comes to typing.

Therefore, I’m sure the success of ChromeOS is another reason why some people may have decided to ditch their Android tablets. After all, ChromeOS is just as easy to use as a tablet, so it makes sense it took some users away from owning a tablet.

The Chromebook and bigger screen phones reduced the need for an Android tablet

Something else that has had an impact on tablet sales is mobile phones that come with much larger displays. These are also known as a phablet because they are phones, but the display is so large it could be mistaken as a tablet. Generally speaking, you can find many mobile phones with a 6.5-inch display, which was something unheard of a few years ago.

Android tablets were left to gather dust

Because many people decided to buy a phone with a large display instead of having a separate tablet, and consumers switched to ChromeOS to get the full laptop experience. It’s understandable that tablet sales would suffer. You would get to a stage where you found it difficult to justify the cost of buying a separate tablet.

This meant you could leave a tablet under your bed and forget about it for weeks at a time. When you did want to use your tablet, you may have found the battery had run out. You would then need to charge the tablet to use it. This is the problem with not using a tablet regularly; you start to slowly drift away from it, and it becomes a gadget you don’t really need in your life.

The new Google Pixel tablet is far more versatile

This is something that Google has been putting a lot of thought into. Their recent research about Android tablet use confirms many people are not using them as much as they once did.

To fix this issue they’ve come up with a great idea to get more from your tablet. The new Google Pixel Android tablet to be released in 2023 will double up as a Google Home assistant. It isn’t clear yet whether this will be an additional extra. However, you will be able to get a separate speaker dock, which you can simply attach to the Pixel tablet.

Pixel Android tablet docked
The new Pixel Android tablet to be released in 2023

By doing this you will get access to better-sounding speakers for when you want to listen to your music. You will also be able to use your Pixel tablet when connected to the speaker dock as a Google Home Assistant. Whilst all of this is happening your tablet will also be charging.

This makes the new Pixel Android tablet much more versatile than most of the tablets we’ve previously owned. It’s also a much better way to have a Google Home Assistant in your home. I love my Google Home Assistant, but the majority of the time the display isn’t really being utilised. If I swapped my home assistant with the Pixel tablet and docking station. I would be getting much more value from both.

Summary

The ability to dock the Pixel tablet fixes a lot of the concerns tablet users may have. It removes the issue of not feeling you get enough use from a tablet to warrant the cost. Also, using it as a Google Home assistant means you’ll always know where you left it. Instead of hunting around your home for where you last left your tablet. You would get into the habit of docking the tablet after use, so you can use it as a home assistant and charge the battery.

For me personally, this definitely removes the issue of me not really needing an Android tablet. I would not be surprised if other manufacturers do not follow this in the future. It would mean we may start to see a rise in Android tablet sales.

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