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 IDC data. 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.”
Tablet Company Highlights
Apple once again led the tablet market with 36.5% market share and year-over-year growth of 19.5% during 4Q20. The new iPad 10.2-inch and iPad Air 10.9-inch tablets launched in the last two quarters helped drive sales during the holiday quarter. With the pandemic restrictions still in effect and remote learning still the primary mode of teaching, there were several big deployments of iPads in the education segment.
Samsung retained second place with 19.4% share and exceptional year-over-year growth of 44.9%. The company shipped 10.1 million units in the quarter and 31.3 million units for 2020. It is still the largest provider of Android slate tablets with successful products such as the Galaxy Tab A and Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. Meanwhile, the vendor’s earnest efforts at making Android more productive and usable in a detachable form factor have helped the brand maintain a premium over other Android competitors.
Lenovo captured the third spot with global shipments of 5.6 million units and 120.6% year-over-year growth in 4Q20. Slates accounted for the majority of Lenovo’s tablet sales; however, their detachable portfolio has shown some momentum with the recently-launched Chromebook Duet producing a gain of nearly 2.5 percentage points for detachable tablets. Western Europe and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) remain the largest markets for Lenovo’s tablet business.
Amazon.com held the fourth position in 4Q20 with 7.6% year-over-year growth and shipments totaling 3.6 million. The United States remains the biggest market for Amazon tablets, followed by Western Europe. With budget-friendly tablets, Amazon has created a sweet spot for itself and the Fire Kids edition tablets have gained in popularity, especially during the pandemic as parents searched for ways to keep their kids indoors and entertained.
Huawei rounded out the top 5 with 3.3 million units in 4Q20 for a year-over-year decline of 25.7%. U.S. sanctions continued to derail the company’s plans for success. However, the company’s strong presence in China remains a bright spot for the brand.