Study: the iPad Pro and others like it could turn around declining tablet sales

Strategy Analytics says there is "immense opportunity" for new and replacement sales of tablets, reversing a four percent decline in shipments in 2015 to seven percent growth in 2016. Part of that growth will be due to Apple's iPad Pro and other, "super-sized" tablets, according to the research group.

Consumer surveys show that tablets and personal computers are nearly equally desired among owners of both devices and with over 700 million of these devices beyond the midpoint of their lifecycles in 2015. The "hard work put in by vendors like Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung to redefine the tablet will bear fruit in 2016," according to Strategy Analytics.

The iPad Pro, due next month, sports a 12.9-inch Retina display with 5.6 million pixels, the most ever in an iOS device. It also packs a new 64-bit A9X chip, which Apple says rivals "most portable PCs." A four-speaker audio design provides stereo sound.

The iPad Pro also packs four speakers, which offers a big improvement in audio performance. The iPad Pro starts at US$799 for the 32GB with Wi-Fi model and $1079 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular 128GB model, comes in three metallic finishes (silver, gold and space gray) and will be available starting in November from, Apple’s retail stores, through select carriers and Apple Authorized Resellers.

"As replacement cycles have lengthened for both tablets and PCs in recent years, 2-in-1 detachable tablets have become affordable enough that they will compete for consumer spend of both products," according to Peter King, a research director at Strategy Analytics. "A household could settle on a 2-in-1 tablet for casual use, which can also transform into a dockable mini workstation when needed for more intensive activities. The existence of the '11-inch or more' tablet screen size category is a great example of the expanding feature set and usage model of the tablet as it plays into the prosumer and enterprise segments due to cost and functionality."