Soft Tablet Growth Getting Even Softer

[responsive]tablets[/responsive]Tablets—once hailed as a revolution in mobile tech—have failed to perform. Not only are sales of the devices slowing dramatically, but sales of the content they were supposed to revolutionize are down too. Digital magazine sales are in a major slump, and they aren’t pulling in the expected digital ad revenue.

And while many expected it to be ubiquitous by now, the iPad is losing traffic share to competitors. Meanwhile readers are saying they just don’t like reading digital magazines on the tablets they do own.

The problem is particularly acute in mature market segments, “meaning that users who can afford tablets already have them,” writes Caysey Welton in Folio:

“North American and Western Europe will account for zero growth this year combined, but when you shake those two out of the global picture, tablets are growing at 12 percent when compared to last year,” Welton notes, citing recent International Data Corporation figures.

While Welton predicts that the emerging markets should continue to see some growth in the coming month, the trend toward bigger screens on smartphones may hasten the downturn of sales here.

“As screens continue to shrink in tandem with prices, emerging markets should remain a strong, growing tablet segment. Conversely, larger phone screens that lend themselves to lean-back tablet activities might soften demand in western markets,” Welton notes.

Back in the publishing industry, magazine execs are working hard to redefine the digital magazine in a way that makes sense to readers. Strong preferences remain for reading in print. Combine that with shrinking tablet adoption, lackluster magazine app downloads  and the problems of reading magazines on the iPad, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for underwhelming success.

Meanwhile print magazines remain resilient, with hundreds of new titles launching and many old titles coming back to print. And they never need a recharge. Lovely.