The iPad was once expected to render the PC practically extinct, with households and offices forecast to ditch their computers for portable touchscreens.
But sales of tablet computers are now set to fall sharply for their third consecutive year after
researchers said demand had peaked and that the technology had proved less popular than smartphones or home computers.
Deloitte forecasts that sales of tablet computers will drop to under 165m this year, down 10pc on last year and almost a third below 2014. Meanwhile, researchers at IDC believe the PC market will stabilise this year at 251.4m, a drop of just 1.7pc. plan to buy one in the next 12 months.
Sales of tablets rose rapidly just as those of PCs started to decline after Apple’s first iPad was released seven years ago, leading some pundits to suggest the world was entering a “Post-PC” era.
But sales flatlined and then fell as users switched to smartphones with bigger screens as well as holding on to older tablets for longer than expected.
Deloitte said that while iPads have proved popular among less computer-savvy users, younger consumers had opted for laptops.
With smartphones becoming larger and more powerful, and our research showing that millennials typically prefer laptops to tablets, it seems that the tablet may be getting harder to swallow for consumers,” said Paul Lee, head of TMT research at Deloitte.
“There are three consumer devices that are leading tablets by a large margin: TVs, smartphones, and computers. It seems unlikely that the tablet will ever displace these devices.”
Apple has seen iPad sales fall to their lowest level since 2011, although it is attempting to reboot the market with a range of devices aimed at professionals. The company is rumoured to be launching new iPads in the spring.