Android Tablets Are Dying - And That's Great News

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Dell just put another nail in the Android tablet coffin. The company announced that it is killing off its Android-powered Venue slates. As more and more consumers use bigger phones and people hold on to their existing devices longer, tablet sales have been crashing for a while. But Android tablets are particularly pointless.

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“The slate tablet market is over-saturated and is experiencing declining demand from consumers, so we’ve decided to discontinue the Android-based Venue tablet line,” a Dell spokesman told PCWorld.

The irony is that the Dell Venue 8 7000 is one of the best-rated Android tablets we've reviewed, sporting a gorgeous OLED display and an innovative RealSense camera. The problem is that no one really needs an Android tablet anymore--and that they've always trailed the iPad in one critical area.

For years, Android tablet apps have paled in comparison to Apple's rich selection of tablet-optimized apps. Many titles are just stretched-out phone apps, while iPad developers have found better ways to take advantage of the available real estate, as well as pen input with the latest iPad Pro. At least games play as well on Android tablets as they do phones.

MORE: Best Chromebooks Available Now

Speaking of phones, Android tablets are becoming irrelevant because no one needs a 7 or 8-inch slab that does the same thing as a big-screen phablet. The experience between using a phone and tablet just isn't differentiated enough. And you can pick up a large 5.5-inch handset for cheap, like the $199 Huawei Honor 5x.

There's yet another reason Android tablets are on death's door; they're transforming into something else: Chromebooks. Now that Android apps run on Chrome OS devices, you're starting to see more Chromebooks with touchscreens build in. The Asus Chromebook Flip was just the start. HP just announced the Chromebook 11 G5 with a touchscreen, and more are on the way.

Android tablets are dying, but Chromebooks with touch could essentially give the category new life as a 2-in-1 combo. According to IDC, detachable devices like the Surface experienced triple-digit growth year over year in the first quarter of 2016, while the rest of the tablet market declined by 14.7 percent.

For now, most touchscreen Chromebooks are convertible clamshells, but I expect to see detachables proliferate by the end of the year. In fact, the Chromebook Pixel C would have been much more satisfying a hybrid if it ran Chrome OS with an Android store on top.

I'm not saying that Chrome-tablets are going to take down prosumer devices like the Surface Pro 4. But for consumers focused on value, as well as students, touch-friendly Chromebooks that run Android apps and games could provide a great mix of ease of use and versatility.

So don't cry for Android tablets. They're just finding a new home.

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Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
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13 comments
  • Volta Says:

    You may not see it but Android tablets are fantastic for many uses. I have a Galaxy S7 Edge, a powerful gaming PC and a galaxy Tab S2; of this high end set of options it's the tablet to get most use at home.

    Writing down thoughts, reading books and comics, watching videos and photos, quick internet searches, browsing Reddit and forums, Facebook and social sites, RSS and news, and so on. I may need it only for a couple minutes or half a hour. In bed, chilling in the balcony, sunbathing, walking and thinking, cooking, wherever. It's light and easy to use one handed anywhere, without preparation, adjustements or sacrifices.

    Phablet are uncomfortable because of their small screens, convertibles are cumbersome and limiting due their weights and ergonomics. The 8" 4:3 tablets, be them Android or iOS, hit the sweet spot for immediate usability.

  • JerryR Says:

    Right, Android tablets are dying. You do realize that iPad sales are dropping at a faster rate than tablets as a whole, don't you? Does that mean that iOS tablets are dying, too?

    And did you notice that Amazon tablet sales jumped over 5000% in the first quarter of 2016? That tells me that more than a few people still want an affordable 7" Android-based tablet.

    The tablet market is crowded, competitive and shrinking. A number of companies will leave or change their product mix to be more profitable.

  • Ed4music Says:

    I think tablets are great for viewing sheet music (there are centuries of songs to scan).

    I use MobileSheets Pro when I play in a big band and with a firefly bluetooth footswitch can flip pages and jump back to point in the chart and then the coda with no problems on my Asus 18 inch tablet. The ability to make setlists and view pdfs in full (2) page views is great. Mike has done a great job with a full screen application for Android.

    Most Mac journalists don't seem to know about all the applications that people use as tools to solve a specific
    job on Android.

    The big problem I see is viewing tablets in sunlight, but an E-reader can solve that problem or maybe paperwhite can be brought to overly glossy screen tablets someday.

  • ANother Says:

    How on earth can you compare the experience of a 5.5 inch 'phablet' with that of a much larger tablet? Most tablets come with 8-10 inch screens. Even 7 inch tablets are becoming rarer, because screen size is important. Nobody in their right mind would spend long trying to surf the web or work on documents on a 5-6 inch 'phablet'. Chrome OS might well grow further, but people will still want tablets rather than more expensive, bulkier laptop style devices.

  • Stephen Brice Says:

    I disagree with this. My wife and I both have the Nexus 7 tablet. It is perfect for surfing the net, checking emails, paying bills, reading a book, etc. while sitting on the sofa watching television or just listening to music.

  • crescentdave Says:

    Whenever competition no longer exists within a field, there is a slow-down on improvements, an increase in pricing and a net deficit experience for the consumer. So your basic premise is just wrong for those of us who actually purchase and use the machines. Focus.

  • Chris Says:

    Mark, I talked to a Chrome OS Journalist from an Android fansite that has talked with engineers who have worked on the Pixel C and they have told him that there will not be Chrome tablets like you insisted and like I did earlier until he repudiated me. Instead, Google is working on a version of Android that includes a Chrome Window Manager as a mode for Android. Chrome OS is not optimized for tablets so you will see Chrome OS for PCs only (which means no detachables, just foldables)and Android will be on both PCs and tablets in 2017. Hopefully this ends the bewilderment a year early.

  • Robert Says:

    Dell dropping out of something else can only mean there's hope for us yet. Hp? Who really cares. You need to check your sources, get reliable information and stop guessing. Bad article. Poor reporting, ify grammar.

  • Alan Nakamura Says:

    I have 2 Android Tablets, including a Dell Venue. I think they work great, and with my old Toshiba Thrive 10", I can plug a Mouse and/or a Keyboard into it!

    You just have to find the right one that serves your needs the best!

    BE TOGETHER... NOT THE SAME.

  • Jayman Says:

    I have 2 Android tablets and I am very happy with them. Don't know what the fuss is all about.

  • Samsung Tab S2 Says:

    The Samsung Tab S2 is a game changer.

  • JuanSoto Says:

    I've had my fill of Android on tablets but would seriously consider RemixOS with right-click mouse support and copy/paste. Toss in a full-featured browser with full support for extensions and we're talking strong desktop alternative.

    This may be precisely what ChromeOS with Android will become. It's ability to run Linux, a couple of different ways with good hardware support, makes your argument even stronger.

  • Joshua Says:

    You keep saying tablets are dying but don't show any proof that they are. You just keep saying it over and over. Can you actually name a legit source, or numbers proving it? Crappy Dell and over priced HP are leaving as they were late to the game and never got tablets.

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