Tablet and Chromebook Shipments Continue to Surge During 1Q21

Tablets had an outstanding first quarter of 2021 (1Q21) with 55.2% year-over-year growth and shipments totaling 39.9 million units, according to preliminary data from IDC. Growth of this magnitude has not been seen since the third quarter of 2013 when the tablet market grew by 56.9% year over year.

While Chromebooks and tablets can serve different customers, both remain in high demand. Chromebook shipments totaled 13 million units in 1Q21, up from 2.8 million in the first quarter of 2020.

"While vaccine rollouts and businesses returning to offices may slow down the work-from-home trend, we are still far from returning to 'normal' working conditions and hence the demand for tablets, especially detachables, is expected to continue for a while," said Anuroopa Nataraj, research analyst with IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers.

"However, as buyers increasingly turn towards competing products, such as thin and light notebooks for work or entertainment and Chromebooks for education, the future of tablets will remain under constant competition, leaving the heavy lifting to larger brands such as Apple, Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft," added Nataraj.

Previously, schools around the world had shown a strong preference for the tablet form factor due to its low cost and easy manageability. However, the rising popularity of Chromebooks is quickly leaving little room for tablets in markets such as the United States, Western Europe, and more recently, Japan.

"There's no doubt that Chromebooks have supplanted tablets in many education markets. However, price and the dependence on cloud services have prevented them from becoming mainstays in all regions," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. "Besides, Chromebooks have yet to break into the consumer market in a meaningful way as competing notebooks as well as tablets, such as the iPad, Galaxy devices, and Fire tablets, maintain a strong presence."



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