A new tablet every year? Slow down, that's just stupid

Annual tablet cycles are stupid
Go big or go home

It's simple really. Rebooting a tablet every year is just plain wrong and manufacturers are only hurting themselves with this obsession of churning something out every 12 months just for the sake of it.

Don't get me wrong, I love new technology. When a new device lands I can't wait to get my grubby hands all over it. But my incessant need to have the latest tech before my very eyes doesn't constitute good business practice in the tablet world.

We've become accustomed to changing our phones on a yearly basis, or perhaps every two years, but tablets have more longevity than our pocket friendly devices.

The unexpendables

When someone buys a tablet they don't expect to replace it within two years, yet alone 12 months - it's an investment. Usually tablets are purchased as a gift, or as a personal treat, and they are certainly not seen as the expendable items our phones are.

With that in mind, there's really no need to bring out a new tablet on an annual basis and it really irks some people when firms release these incremental upgrades in an attempt to tease more money out of consumers.

The iPad 4 (or iPad with Retina display, as Apple likes to call it) was a classic example of the market just getting on the tablet churn. It's basically the iPad 3 with a Lightning port which actually arrived less than a year after its predecessor.

Thanks to such a minor upgrade the iPad 4 announcement fell pretty flat and although its sales will suggest it's still very popular that's more to do with Apple's dedicated fan base and trendy image rather than the product itself.

Patience is a virtue

Had Apple waited another year it would have been able to launch a product which really knocked our socks off in terms of features with a beefed up screen, fresh new operating system in iOS 7 and a ream of other USPs made possible by the advances in technology.

Taking all that into account it's no surprise Apple has announced a decline in iPad sales this year - the market is saturated and no one needs another tablet, so stop messing about.

Of course it's not just Apple who is guilty of such shenanigans. Google has just launched its new Nexus 7 slate, so new in fact it couldn't even think of a decent name.

And why's that? Well basically because it isn't really a completely new tablet, just an upgraded version of the original Nexus 7.

I'm no fool

That's not to say I don't like it, far from it. In fact I'm rather taken by the new Nexus 7, but my Nexus 7 from last year is still going strong and it will receive the Android 4.3 update very soon.

Sure the screen isn't full HD, and the processor isn't as punchy but that doesn't really justify me dropping money on a tablet which essentially gives me these features and a rear facing camera. Who do you think I am Google? A fool?

I'm fully aware that exactly the same thing happens in the mobile market, just look at the Galaxy S4 compared to the Galaxy S3, or the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 4, but regardless of whether it's right or not we accept that's what happens.

"Stop this silly game of one-up-manship"

It's been like that for years. I remember having my Nokia 3310 on a 12-month contract and gleefully trading it in for a swisher Nokia 3100 when it ended - but with tablets we become more attached.

Tablet manufacturers listen up. Stop this silly game of one-up-manship every 12 months. All it's doing is confusing those who are looking for a tablet and infuriating those who own an outdated device less than a year into its life.

Wait at least two years between cycles and you'll be able to launch something that will seriously amaze people and create a genuine case to actually buy the damn thing.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.