Tablet Shipments Return to Growth in 2020, Fueled by Unprecedented Demand

Tablet Shipments Return to Growth in 2020, Fueled by Unprecedented Demand

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The worldwide tablet market had an outstanding fourth quarter (4Q20) with 19.5% year-over-year growth and shipments totaling 52.2 million units, according to preliminary data from IDC. Impacted by the pandemic, the tablet market reached shipment levels not seen since the fourth quarter of 2017 when the total was 49.9 million.

Detachable tablets have broadened their presence in the market as the emphasis on productivity, flexibility, and ease of use is now greater than ever before and sales for this category were often in direct competition with notebooks. Shipments for detachable tablets grew 27.9% during the quarter as both Microsoft and Apple helped push the form factor with their respective products. Additionally, backlogs for PCs led some consumers to purchase these detachable tablets in place of notebooks. Meanwhile, slate tablets also grew 13.7% during the quarter as consumers sought ways to stay entertained.

"Unprecedented demand in the consumer and education segments due to work from home and online learning has undoubtedly led to the resurgence in tablet demand," said Anuroopa Nataraj, research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. "However, the category is not expected to retain this momentum in the long term as it still faces immense competition from notebooks and smartphones."

Apple once again led the tablet market with 36.5% market share and year-over-year growth of 19.5% during 4Q20. For the full year, Apple grew 6.7%. Samsung retained second place with 19.4% share and exceptional growth for the full year of 44.9%. The company shipped 10.1 million units in the quarter and 31.3 million units for 2020.

Lenovo captured the third spot with global shipments of 5.6 million units and 120.6% year-over-year growth in 4Q20. Amazon held the fourth position in 4Q20 with 7.6% year-over-year growth and shipments totaling 3.6 million. Huawei rounded out the top 5 with 3.3 million units in 4Q20 for a year-over-year decline of 25.7%. However, for the full year, Huawei held the third spot with 8.5% growth.

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