IDC says “detachables” like the Surface and iPad Pro will spur tablet growth in coming years

Tablet shipments dropped for the fourth consecutive quarter, according to research company IDC. The firm noted shipments of 211.3 million for full-year 2015, down over eight percent from the same period a year ago.

Despite declines in the overall tablet market, and Apple’s iPad business in particular, which recorded a 25 percent drop in sales last quarter to 9.88 million, IDC sees an impending turnaround, spurred by the so-called “detachable” category of tablets, which include products like Microsoft’s Surface line and Apple’s new iPad Pro.

“We’re witnessing a real market transition as end users shift their demand towards detachables and more broadly towards a productivity-based value proposition,” noted Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets at IDC. With products from Microsoft, Google and Apple, “IDC is confident that the detachables segment will nearly double in size in the next year, recording more than 75% growth compared to 2015.”

This will result in “the growth of Windows and a turnaround for Apple’s iPad device line,” according to the company. “We believe the Pro to be the only reason for Apple to gain tablet market share in the coming years as they target select enterprise and prosumer audiences.”

IDC specifies that detachables include slate tablets that have optional keyboard or dock accessories, such as the Surface or iPad Pro, plus the growing range of 2-in-1 laptops from companies like Lenovo, HP, Dell and Asus.

IDC also sees medium-sized tablets, between nine and 13 inches in screen size, overtaking smaller tablets between seven and nine inches by 2019, as phablets increasingly take the place of smaller slates in most peoples’ lives.