Tablet shipments rose in first quarter of 2021 due to high demand for large-screen devices

The global tablet market saw a big revival during the pandemic, emerging from a long slump. The market grew by 19% Year-on-Year in 2020 due to the increasing demand for large-screen mobile devices spurred by remote work, online education and extended stay-at-home orders.

Continuing the growth trajectory, the market grew 53% YoY in the first quarter of 2021 after reaching a five-year high in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Counterpoint Research’s latest Global Tablet Market Report. However, in Quarter-on-Quarter terms, it came down by 22% due to the quarter being an off-season period.

Major tablet makers ramped up production and shipments in 2020 to meet the increased demand. Apple and Samsung aggressively released and promoted new models. The two companies expanded their market shares throughout 2020. The top tablet makers seem to have benefited from less competition in the growing market. Many tablet players had earlier downsized or closed the business, while Huawei sharply lost its share due to the US ban.

Counterpoint Research Global Tablet Market Share by Brand, Q1 2020 vs. Q1 2021

Apple sold 33% more iPad units worldwide in 2020 than in 2019, and continued to lead the market, expanding its share to 37% in the first quarter of 2021. Despite the off-season effect, Apple improved its performance in all major regions, particularly in Japan, where its sales continued to hit all-time highs. Senior Analyst Liz Lee said: “The basic iPad models accounted for 56% of the overall iPad shipments in the first quarter of 2021. The iPad Air and iPad Pro series came next with 19% and 18% shares, respectively. Since consumers are constantly concerned about prices and portability, the latest iPad 8 emerged as the top-selling model. Launched in October 2020, the iPad Air 4 ranked second on the bestseller list as it was a huge hit with consumers looking for cost-effectiveness as well as high specifications.”

Lee added: “The recently launched M1 iPad Pro carries big changes compared to the previous models. The initial consumer response has been highly positive. But Apple is currently grappling with supply chain constraints such as chip shortages and production issues related to the Liquid Retina XDR panel. Accordingly, we expect the M1 iPad Pro shipments to be able to soar in the third quarter backed by supply stabilization. This growth will be maintained in the fourth quarter, in line with the peak season effect.”

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