Android has become the operating system for most non-iPhone smartphones, and its app ecosystem is coming to Chromebooks, but it’s not having as much luck recently with the cratering tablet market. (Not that Apple’s iPad is faring much better.) The latest blow comes from one of the world’s biggest PC manufacturers, as Dell has decided to drop all support for the OS.
While the company hasn’t made an Android phone in some time, it still was producing tablets like the Venue 8 7000 — favorably reviewed by ZDNet just a few months ago — as well as the Wyse Cloud Connect, an Android PC-on-a-stick. But Dell has told PCWorld that it is discontinuing those devices, and won’t even update them with more recent flavors of Android.
The reasoning behind this decision is no surprise. Dell stated that the slate tablet market is oversaturated, and consumer demand for Android tablets has slackened to the point where the PC giant feels it’s no longer economically viable to produce the devices. Tablet sales are expected to decline for the second straight year, according to research firm IDC, but is getting a boost from the rise of convertible models, which add a keyboard and laptop functionality that slate tablets lack.
While IDC forecasts that Android will continue to power about 75 percent of slate tablets, the growth will be in 2-in-1s. As a result, Dell is devoting resources to that growing market segment, which has tended to favor Windows over Android. The company also sells Chromebooks, another tech product that has gain favored recently compared to once-hot tablets.
Dell says it will continue to provide technical support and warranty coverage for Android tablets, but it won’t update your device to, say, Android 6.0 Marshmallow any longer. There will still be no shortage of Android slate tablets — in particular, Amazon’s low-cost Fire brand should remain extremely popular — but major PC makers appear to be exiting or deemphasizing that market to leave it to companies that can handle the slim profit margins.